Sydney Zulich will appear on the Nov. 7 Bloomington municipal election ballot as the Democratic Party’s nominee for Bloomington city council District 6.
Zulich was the selection of the party’s caucus, which was held on Friday, to fill the ballot vacancy resulting from David Wolfe Bender’s resignation as the District 6 nominee.
Bender won the May 2 primary, as the only candidate on the ballot, but resigned amid a dispute over his residency in the district.
At Friday’s caucus, Zulich was the only candidate vying to fill the vacancy.
She completed her undergraduate degree at Indiana University this spring.
The caucus was held in Bloomington’s city council chambers at city hall.
In her remarks delivered from the dais on Friday, Zulich recounted her path to candidacy for District 6 city council. She described how the election of Donald Trump as president in 2016 impacted her: “I have never felt more helpless,” she said. She continued, “It felt like this huge decision had been made. And I wasn’t a part of the decision process. I wasn’t invited to sit at the table, and I wasn’t 18.”
Zulich waited four years, then cast a ballot for Joe Biden, two days after her 18th birthday. She later helped Isak Asare with his 9th District congressional campaign. She worked this spring on Asare’s successful at-large city council primary campaign. In 2022, she worked on Penny Githens’s District 62 state house campaign.
Zulich talked about the fact that among the 5,000 people she talked to when she worked on those campaigns, there were very few people her age.
When she was approached by a good friend and asked to run for city council, she had become comfortable biding her time. Zulich said, “I didn’t think it was my moment.” What persuaded her to run was reflecting on the limited influence that young people have on decision making. She put it like this: “But then I remembered how few young people are at any decision making table in this country.”
Zulich continued, “I thought about all the things I love about Bloomington, and I considered how I personally could make the city better.”
Zulich said, “After a year of working on other people’s campaigns, I decided that it was my time to build my own.”
The floor was opened for questions. The only person to take the chance was Steve Volan, the current District 6 city council representative. The result of redistricting last year put Volan in District 4 with Dave Rollo. Volan chose to run for one of the three at-large city council seats, instead of competing against Rollo, but was not among the top three vote getters.
Volan wanted to know what Zulich’s priorities would be as a city council representative. Among the topics Zulich mentioned were: better north-south bus service; personal safety, especially in parking garages; and more streetlights.
She said the three basic points of her campaign are: personal safety, government availability, and community engagement. Zulich summed up her general approach as taking on those issues that “make it easier to exist as a person in Bloomington.”
A news release issued by Zulich’s campaign after the caucus covered much of the same ground as she did in her remarks.
When a city council district vacancy is filled, it’s only the chairs of the precincts that make up the district who are eligible to mark a ballot. District 6, which is centrally located in Bloomington and includes parts of the Indiana University campus, comprises six precincts. One of the precincts does not currently have a chair.
Zulich was the unanimous selection of the five precinct chairs who were eligible to mark a ballot. They had the option to submit a ballot without selecting Zulich, but there were no such undervotes.
The five precinct chairs who participated in Friday’s caucus were:
- Bloomington 1: Daniel Jenkins (proxy) for Nora West
- Bloomington 3: Nicole Bolden
- Bloomington 4: Geoff McKim
- Bloomington 19: Henry Wolfa (proxy) for Mary Grace Wolfa
- Bloomington 20: Emma Shriberg
Neither Bloomington city clerk Nicole Bolden nor Monroe County councilor Geoff McKim live in District 6. But if a precinct chairship is vacant, the party’s county chair, David Henry, has the option of appointing someone to fill the seat, even if they don’t live there.
In his remarks on Friday, Henry noted that if the Democratic Party’s nominees for city council all win in November, that will be the first time that Bloomington has seen a majority of the nine council seats filled with women. Making up that five-person majority on the nine-member council would be Zulich, Isabel Piedmont-Smith (District 1), Kate Rosenbarger (District 2), Hopi Stosberg (District 3), and Shruti Rana (District 5).
The one Republican on Bloomington’s municipal election ballot for the fall is District 3 city council candidate Brett Heinisch. The Republican Party has the option of caucusing other candidates onto the ballot, but that’s unlikely at this point. The deadline for a party to fill a ballot vacancy is July 3 at noon. That’s the same deadline that applies for potential write-in candidates.
Photos: June 30, 2023 Democratic Party ballot vacancy caucus