Deputy mayor Don Griffin files paperwork to run for mayor of Bloomington in 2023

At 11:11 a.m. on Friday morning, Bloomington deputy mayor Don Griffin, Jr. filed paperwork with the Monroe County election division to become a candidate for mayor in the 2023 election.

Bloomington deputy mayor Don Griffin, Jr. (B Square file photos from 2021 and 2022)

Griffin joins Susan Sandberg  and Kerry Thomson  as previously declared candidates for the mayoral nomination of the Democratic party.

Clearing the way for Griffin to run for mayor was Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s announcement two weeks ago  that he would not be seeking a third term.

Griffin and Hamilton both appeared on Wednesday in front of the Bloomington city council to present the administration’s proposal for a $29.5 million bond issuance to rehabilitate fire stations and to integrate a new police station into the western part of the Showers building—the same structure where city hall is located.

Reached by The B Square on Friday afternoon, Griffin said a more formal announcement would be forthcoming, probably early next week. For now, he’s just telling people that he is, if fact, running, and they’re welcome to tell others, too.

Griffin has served as deputy mayor of Bloomington since late April of 2021, when Mick Renneisen retired from the position. Continue reading “Deputy mayor Don Griffin files paperwork to run for mayor of Bloomington in 2023”

Election 2023: Sims won’t run again for city council, still plans continued service to Bloomington

Bloomington at-large city councilmember Jim Sims will not be seeking reelection in 2023.

Sims has confirmed his plans not to run in 2023 in a phone interview with The B Square.

The nine-members of the city council, along with the mayor and city clerk, are up for election in 2023. All 11 elected Bloomington officials are Democrats.

Sims said his decision not to seek reelection was a tough one—something he had grappled with, and consulted with others about.

But in the end, Sims said, he recognized the potential impact that the stress of city council service might have on his own health. That led him to conclude he could serve the community better in non-legislative ways.

“It’s just time to move on,” Sims said.

Some of those non-legislative ways include his involvement in the Monroe County branch of the NAACP. Sims currently serves as the organization’s 2nd vice president for political engagement and finance. Sims said he plans to continue his more than 20 years of service with the NAACP. Continue reading “Election 2023: Sims won’t run again for city council, still plans continued service to Bloomington”

Analysis: 2024 edition of Bloomington city council will be different, by a little or a lot

In 2023, elections will be held for 11 Bloomington city offices—mayor, clerk, and the nine seats on the city council.

The image links to a dynamic version of the new Bloomington city council district map, which allows zooming in and out.

After the 2023 city elections, the composition of the nine-member Bloomington city council, which will be sworn in to start 2024, is sure to be different by at least one member. But it could be more.

That’s based on the fact that it’s not possible to serve or to run as mayor and city councilmember at the same time.

Also in the mix are new city council district boundaries, and a somewhat easier path to the ballot for candidates who want to run independent of a political party.

City council president Susan Sandberg has announced she’s running for mayor, which means she’s not running for city council.

To file an official declaration, Sandberg like other candidates in the municipal election, will have a 30-day window that starts Jan. 4, 2023, 118 days before the May 2, 2023 primary. Sandberg’s committee paperwork has already been filed. Continue reading “Analysis: 2024 edition of Bloomington city council will be different, by a little or a lot”

Sandberg sets tone for 2023 mayoral campaign with kickoff: “We should restore before we do more.”

On Wednesday, the day after Election Day, current Bloomington city council president Susan Sandberg filed amended paperwork to convert her campaign organization from a mayoral exploratory committee to a campaign committee.

And on Sunday afternoon, Sandberg, a Democrat, kicked off her campaign for mayor with a gathering of about 60 people in one of the indoor shelters at Karst Farm Park.

Another declared candidate for Bloomington mayor in 2023, Democrat Kerry Thomson, will be kicking off her campaign this coming Thursday. Bloomington mayor John Hamilton, also a Democrat, has not yet publicly announced if he will seek re-election to a third term.

Karst Farm Park is a Monroe County government facility, Sandberg acknowledged in her opening remarks. And it was chosen for the kickoff with a specific intent, she said: “One of the things that I know I can bring to the table is a much better working relationship with our colleagues in Monroe County.”

Sandberg’s statement was a reference to the strained relations between Hamilton and the county commissioners. Policy issues where the friction between the two layers of government has been evident include a stalled collaborative effort on the convention center expansion and the location of a new county jail.

On Wednesday this past week, county commissioners invited the mayor to make the next move after voting to establish a capital improvement board to govern the new convention center expansion, contingent on the city council and the mayor’s agreement to its terms.

On the question of the jail location, for this Monday’s (Nov. 14) second city plan commission hearing on a requested rezone by the county government, to allow for jail construction in the southern part of the city, the city planning staff recommendation is now against the rezone. For the first hearing, the planning staff had not given a staff recommendation either way.

Better city-county relations are just one plank of Sandberg’s campaign platform which includes: affordability; safety; collaboration; and basic services. Continue reading “Sandberg sets tone for 2023 mayoral campaign with kickoff: “We should restore before we do more.””

Sgambelluri takes city council District 2 over Guenther by 26-point margin

Spirits were high Tuesday night at Monroe County Democratic Party headquarters on Madison Street. Both Democrats in the only contested races for Bloomington’s municipal elections hand just won seats on the city council in 2020. Ron Smith won a three-way race in District 3.

Sue Sgambelluri won her race in District 2 against Republican Party nominee Andrew Guenther. She received 365 votes (63 percent) to Guenther’s 218 (37 percent). That included a plurality for Sgambelluri in each of the district’s six precincts, among early voters and Election Day voters alike.

The closest tally inside the district was the one-vote margin in Bloomington 14 precinct among Election Day voters—Guenther had 19 votes compared to Sgambelluri’s 20. Continue reading “Sgambelluri takes city council District 2 over Guenther by 26-point margin”

District 3 city council race: 2-point margin for Democrat Ron Smith over independent Kappas

The three-way race on the ballot for Bloomington’s city council District 3 seat wound up a close two-way contest between Democratic Party nominee Ron Smith and independent Nick Kappas. Independent Marty Spechler was a distant third.

Just 23 votes, or 2.4 percentage points, separated Smith from Kappas. Smith received 448 votes (46.3 percent), Kappas 425 votes (43.9 percent), and Spechler 95 votes (9.8 percent).

Of the seven precincts in District 3, Kappas won four of them. Kappas had 20 more votes than Smith among voters who cast ballots on Election Day—Kappas tallied 354 votes, compared to 334 for Smith. But Smith had a bigger advantage among voters who cast their ballots early—Smith got 114 of those votes compared to 71 for Kappas. Continue reading “District 3 city council race: 2-point margin for Democrat Ron Smith over independent Kappas”

Alea iacta est: Bloomington election results, as served

Here’s where The Beacon will post incremental results from the Nov. 5, 2019 municipal election, as they become available directly from the Monroe County clerk’s office, in reverse chronological order. [Update with Final Result: Sue Sgambelluri wins District 2. Smith wins District 3.]

for beacon Election Results Labeled R Map 2019 Bloomington City ElectionsDistrictRepsxxxx copy Continue reading “Alea iacta est: Bloomington election results, as served”

Buckle up, Bloomington, it’s Election Day!

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Arlington Heights Elementary School, where voters in the Bloomington 14 precinct cast their ballots shortly after polls opened at 6 a.m. on Nov. 5, 2019. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

The polls for Bloomington’s municipal elections opened today “without incident,” according to an email sent out by Monroe County’s clerk, Nicole Browne.

For a last-minute overview of candidates and the background for the cancelled elections in all but two of Bloomington’s six city council districts, check out The Beacon’s voter’s guide.

Here are some quick links to candidate profiles:

District 2

District 3

The Beacon will try to tour all of the nine polling locations for District 2 and District 3 today. Timestamped updates to this post will be filed from each polling place. Continue reading “Buckle up, Bloomington, it’s Election Day!”

Bloomington’s municipal elections: 12 hours left on Election Day to make up for light early voting

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Monroe County’s election board met on Monday evening at Election Central at 7th and Madison streets (Note the white board note: “Countdown to 2019 Municipal Elections 1 day”) The board’s business on Election Day Eve included certifying a list of 28 incomplete registrations. From left are the three election board members: Hal Turner, Carolyn VandeWiele, and Monroe County’s clerk, Nicole Brown. Behind the counter is deputy clerk Tressia Martin and election supervisor Karen Wheeler. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

Early voting at Election Central in Bloomington’s municipal elections ended Monday at noon.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5. Polls are open for twelve hours, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Based on early voting totals, the lack of competition in citywide races and four of the six council districts looks like it could be having the kind of negative impact on turnout that was predicted, especially in District 3.

Compared to 2015’s numerical count of early vote totals, District 2 is down this year by 14 percent. District 3 is down 58 percent. Continue reading “Bloomington’s municipal elections: 12 hours left on Election Day to make up for light early voting”

Bloomington city council candidate forum: Indiana University connections

Last Monday (Oct. 29) all five candidates in Bloomington’s city council elections—held only in District 2 and District 3 this year—appeared on Indiana University’s campus. They participated in a forum hosted by The Civil Society at Indiana University. Moderators were students Meredith Karbowsky and Tyler Combs.

The event was held in Woodburn Hall, Room 004, in the lower level of the building, which features slate chalkboards and auditorium-style seats, bolted to the floor, with built-in swing-up tablet arms.

The venue itself got a mention in their introductory remarks from two of the candidates. District 3 independent candidate Marty Spechler told the group he is an emeritus professor of economics at the university—and he’d taught classes in the room. District 2 Republican candidate Andrew Guenther, a recent graduate of the school, said he was glad to be back in the room, where he’d just recently taken political science classes.

Guenther’s opponent in District 2, Democrat Sue Sgambelluri, also holds a degree from IU and works as development director for the college of arts and sciences. In District 3, the other two candidates, Democrat Ron Smith and independent Nick Kappas, also have connections to IU through degrees they earned there.

Most questions asked by moderators were either directly or indirectly connected to the university.

Candidates were asked how they would strike the balance between representing student interests and representing the interest of Bloomington locals. They were also asked how they would ensure student access to quality housing. Based on some recent shootings that did not prompt IU Notify alerts, candidates got a question about how they’d maintain and improve public safety in Bloomington.

Climate change was topic that candidates were asked about, which was not prompted by a university-specific connection.

Earlier reporting on the forum by The Beacon covered the topic of white supremacism as it relates to Bloomington’s farmers market.

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From left: District 2 candidates Andrew Guenther and Sue Sgambelluri; moderators Meredith Karbowsky and Tyler Combs; District 3 candidates Marty Spechler, Ron Smith, and Nick Kappas. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

Continue reading “Bloomington city council candidate forum: Indiana University connections”