Recount for 40-vote margin: Monroe County Dems to ask for hand re-tally in Hall-Githens District 62 race

The Monroe County Democratic Party will petition the Indiana state election division for a recount of votes in  the state house representative District 62 race, which was won by Republican Dave Hall over Democrat Penny Githens.

Left: Penny Githens (D). Right: Dave Hall (R). In these photos, they were giving stump speeches at a candidate event hosted by the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce held on Oct. 3, 2022.

That’s according to a news release issued by the MCDP on Monday morning.

The news release cites the 40-vote margin as the reason for the recount request.

MCDP chair David Henry is quoted in the release saying, “In such extremely close races, a recount is simply about exercising our candidate’s rights under the law, and crossing every t, and dotting every i.”

The procedure for election recounts in the state of Indiana is spelled out in three places: state election law; the state recount commission’s recount procedure manual; and the procedures manual for the state board of accounts.

Under state law, the deadline for a county party to petition for a recount is 17 days after the election, which translates this year to Monday (Nov. 28), due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Barring botched paperwork or failure to hit deadlines, state law indicates that the state recount commission has to order a recount. Continue reading “Recount for 40-vote margin: Monroe County Dems to ask for hand re-tally in Hall-Githens District 62 race”

Dems ask for recount of 4-vote margin in Benton Township board race

A recount in the Benton Township board race has now been requested by the Monroe County Democratic Party.

In the Benton Township board race, where the top three vote getters win election, Democrat Hans Kelson finished fourth, missing third-place by a 4-vote margin. The third-place finisher and was Republican Jake Dodds.

Under state election law, a recount request for a township board race takes the form of a petition filed  with the circuit court. The announcement of the recount petition filing came on Wednesday from Monroe County Democratic chair David Henry.

In the same announcement, Henry wrote that the Democratic party is still weighing a possible recount request in the District 62 state house race.

The District 62 race was won by Republican Dave Hall over Democrat Penny Githens with a post-provisional ballot count margin of 40 votes. The 17-day period for a county chair to ask for a recount translates into next Monday, due to the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

Because Monroe County has the largest population of the three counties covered by District 62, it would fall to the county chair of Monroe County to file for a recount in that race. Continue reading “Dems ask for recount of 4-vote margin in Benton Township board race”

Kerry Thomson kicks off campaign for Bloomington mayor: “A public that labels itself ‘progressive’ deserves to see some progress.”

On Thursday, at a gathering of nearly 200 people at Switchyard Brewing on Walnut Street in downtown Bloomington, Kerry Thomson kicked off her 2023 campaign to become Bloomington’s next mayor.

About an hour before Thomson’s event, incumbent mayor Democrat John Hamilton had announced that he won’t be seeking a third four-year term.

Thomson led off her remarks with a recognition of Hamilton’s news: “I don’t know if anybody has heard, but John Hamilton decided he’s not running.”

She added, “We are grateful for his service to the city. And we are building forward with new leadership in the city of Bloomington—that’s what we know.”

So far at least, there are two declared candidates for the Democratic Party’s nomination for mayor in the 2023 race—Thomson and city council president Susan Sandberg. Their candidacies won’t become official until they file the paperwork in early 2023.

Since late 2018, Thomson has served as executive director of Indiana University’s Center for Rural Engagement (IUCRE). The center’s website describes the IU initiative as tapping the research, expertise, teaching, and service of IU Bloomington faculty, staff, and students to create connections between non-land-grant, research institutions and rural communities.

Thursday’s gathering was Thomson’s second public campaign event. In June, at Bloomington Bagel Company on Dunn Street, she hosted a celebration of her announcement that she was making a mayoral bid. Continue reading “Kerry Thomson kicks off campaign for Bloomington mayor: “A public that labels itself ‘progressive’ deserves to see some progress.””

Meeting set for review of provisional ballots in 2022 general elections: District 62 House race margin could get bigger, smaller, stay the same

On Friday, at one minute after 12 p.m., at the Election Central building at Madison and 7th streets, Monroe County’s three-member election board will convene a meeting to review the provisional ballots cast in the Nov. 8 general election.

Posted notice of Monroe County election board meeting at Election Central at 7th and Madison streets starting at 12:01 p.m. on Friday, 16, 2022.

Election officials have told The B Square that for this year’s general election there are well over 100 provisional ballots. Those are ballots that were set aside on Election Day, if there was some question about a voter’s qualification to vote.

The key question to be considered for each ballot is whether it should be counted in the final, official results of the election.

It’s a routine and regular process, but generally does not attract much interest, let alone press coverage.

This time around, the interest in provisional ballots is higher, because of the narrow margin in the District 62 State House race, between Dave Hall (R) and Penny Githens (D).

The unofficial vote totals, not including provisional ballots, give Hall a 37-vote margin: 12,975 to 12,938.

District 62 includes areas of Brown and Jackson counties, in addition to a swath of Monroe County that excludes most of the city of Bloomington.

In Monroe County, Githens got the majority of votes: 10,608 to 7,893.

After Friday’s provisional ballot review, Hall’s 37-vote margin across District 62 could be a little bigger, or a little smaller, or exactly the same.

According to Monroe County election officials, after Friday’s meeting, any provisional ballots that are accepted will be run through an optical scanner, which will write the results to a removable storage drive, which will then be hooked up to the computer that stores the election results and uploaded.

But that scanning and uploading activity might not take place until next Monday, according to Monroe County election officials. Continue reading “Meeting set for review of provisional ballots in 2022 general elections: District 62 House race margin could get bigger, smaller, stay the same”

Election 2022 notebook: Early voting pace in Monroe County looks slower than for 2018

Turnout for this year’s midterm elections would be expected to be lower than in 2020, a presidential election year.

But this year’s early voting numbers for Monroe County look like they could be also lagging behind the midterm numbers from last time around in 2018.

In 2018, about 24,500 people voted early—the combined total for absentee mailed-in ballots and in-person votes. That was nearly half of the 52,000 people who participated in the 2018 elections.

A back-of-the napkin estimate for this year’s early voting numbers—based on in-person totals so far, and the absentee mail-in ballots returned so far—would be around 16,000. Continue reading “Election 2022 notebook: Early voting pace in Monroe County looks slower than for 2018”

$9.25M real estate deal pending, could put HQs for Bloomington police, fire in same building as city hall

The view is from the west of the Showers building. The pink outline shows the portion of the building that Bloomington has made an accepted offer to purchase from CFC Properties. The image is from the Pictometry module of Monroe County’s property lookup system.

In a Friday mid-morning news release, the city of Bloomington has announced that it made a $9.25 million offer to purchase the 64,000-square-foot portion of the Showers building that is currently owned by CFC Properties. CFC has accepted the offer, according to the release.

CFC Properties and the city of Bloomington are currently neighbors in the Showers building.

The purchase, which would be made by Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC), still depends on approval from Bloomington’s city council, according to the news release.

The agenda for the RDC’s next meeting is set for July 18.  The city council’s next meeting is scheduled for July 20. As of mid-morning on Friday, the agendas for those meetings have not yet been posted

The Showers building currently has three occupants: Bloomington’s city hall on the eastern half; Monroe County government in the northern part; and CFC Properties on the western side.

According to the news release, Bloomington is looking at consolidating its police and fire headquarters in the additional Showers building space. The police headquarters on 3rd Street was damaged in the June 2021 flood, as was the fire department headquarters on 4th Street. The fire department is currently operating the downtown station out of the  former Bunger & Robertson building at 4th and College, which is four blocks west of the flood-damaged fire station.

According to the city’s news release, the RDC will conduct due diligence on the property, before a purchase is finalized—including environmental assessment, building inspection, remodeling options, land survey, and review of existing leases and contracts. Continue reading “$9.25M real estate deal pending, could put HQs for Bloomington police, fire in same building as city hall”

Pandemic notebook: Hospital numbers push Monroe County community spread level to “medium”

Monroe County’s community spread level for the COVID-19 virus has increased from “low” to “medium” as defined by the Centers for Disease Control.

The number of cases per week per 100,000 residents is still below 200, which would put the county in the “low” category. But the latest CDC number for new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 population is 13.4. That number needs to be less than 10 for a county to stay in the “low” category.

The CDC’s guidance for counties in the “medium” category looks like this:

  • If you are immunocompromised or high risk for severe disease:
    Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions (e.g., testing)
    Have a plan for rapid testing if needed (e.g., having home tests or access to testing)
    Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you are a candidate for treatments like oral antivirals, PrEP, and monoclonal antibodies
  • If you have household or social contact with someone at high risk for severe disease:
    consider self-testing to detect infection before contact
    consider wearing a mask when indoors with them
  • Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters
  • Maintain improved ventilation throughout indoor spaces when possible
  • Follow CDC recommendations for isolation and quarantine, including getting tested if you are exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19

Continue reading “Pandemic notebook: Hospital numbers push Monroe County community spread level to “medium””

Bloomington-Meridiam fiber-to-home internet deal: 3 public bodies, 3 meetings, 3 days

Now pending is a deal between the city of Bloomington and Meridiam, a Paris-based infrastructure company, that would build a fiber-to-the-home network offering symmetric 1-Gigabit service, reaching at least 85-percent of the city.

The image links to a dynamic map. (UG = underground; AE = aerial)

The city describes the deal in terms of a $50 million investment that Meridiam will make. Meridiam has made the arrangement contingent on a kind of “tax rebate” for the company, amounting to $14.4 million over 20 years.

Meridiam says the creation of the wholesale open-access network—after an initial 5-7 year period of exclusive operation by an as-yet-unnamed internet service provider (ISP)—would create about 10 new jobs, with a payroll of about $1.1 million.

Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) got the legal process started last week, when it voted 4-0 to approve a declaratory resolution.

For the deal to go through, three different public bodies will need to give approvals, at three separate meetings, which are set for Monday (plan commission), Tuesday (economic development commission), and Wednesday (city council) of this week.

The final vote, by the RDC, is set for July 5. Continue reading “Bloomington-Meridiam fiber-to-home internet deal: 3 public bodies, 3 meetings, 3 days”

Downtown Bloomington march for stronger gun laws: “It is not about rights. It’s about lives.”

On Saturday afternoon, about 150 people were gathered on the southeast lawn of the Monroe County courthouse in downtown Bloomington. They stood in silence for 21 seconds.

The silence commemorated the lives of 21 children and teachers who were shot and killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, two weeks earlier.

The reflective moment was part of a demonstration and march that was organized by Bloomington North High School students Ingrid Pendergast and Alexandra Shirley, under the banner of the national movement called March for Our Lives. The non-profit organization advocates for stronger gun laws.

Demonstrators on Saturday marched from the southeast corner of the courthouse square, eastward down Kirkwood Avenue to Indiana Avenue, headed one block north to 6th Street, turned west, and headed back to the courthouse along 6th Street.

After demonstrators had again gathered on the courthouse lawn, Pendergast and Shirley gave remarks and invited several people to address the crowd. Then they turned the mic over to anyone who wanted to speak.

Pendergast told the crowd, “We can no longer allow gun violence to be a partisan issue. It is killing us. It is not about Republican versus Democrat.” She added, “It is not about rights. It’s about lives.” Continue reading “Downtown Bloomington march for stronger gun laws: “It is not about rights. It’s about lives.””

2022 Democratic Party primary election notebook: Breakdown of results by precinct for recorder, county commissioner

The precinct-by-precinct numbers for Tuesday’s primary elections are now available on Monroe County’s website.

Numbers are still unofficial.

For county offices, Democrats saw four contested races on the ballot. The race for the nomination for circuit court judge was a four-way contest, won by Emily Salzmann. The race for the nomination for sheriff was a five-way contest, won by Ruben Marté.

The B Square took a closer precinct-by-precinct look at the other two races, which were two-way affairs. The race for recorder was close, almost a dead heat. The county commissioner’s race was not as close—about a 3:2 margin for the winner.

What both races showed was a detectable, even if not dramatic difference between inside and outside the city limits of Bloomington. In both races there was about a four-point difference in results inside and outside Bloomington. Continue reading “2022 Democratic Party primary election notebook: Breakdown of results by precinct for recorder, county commissioner”