Election notebook: Ballot inspections, Salt Creek vacancy

Monday was the legally mandated chance for the public to inspect proofs of  ballots that will be used in Monroe County’s upcoming Nov. 7 municipal elections.

Ballots were on display from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Election Central (7th and Madison streets).

The ballots had been laid out for inspection on a long table by the county’s election division staff, led by election supervisor Ryan Herndon.

Arriving shortly after 9 a.m. to inspect the ballots were a couple of the Democratic Party nominees for Bloomington city offices—Nicole Bolden and Sydney Zulich.

Seeking her third four-year term, Bolden is unopposed on the ballot for city clerk. Zulich is seeking her first four-year term as the District 6 Bloomington city council representative.

All the Democratic Party nominees on the ballot are unopposed, except for Hopi Stosberg, who is competing with Republican Brett Heinisch to represent District 3 on the Bloomington city council.

Based on the sign-in sheet at Election Central, Stosberg and Heinisch dropped by to inspect ballots later in the day. Isabel Piedmont-Smith, who is the Democratic Party’s nominee for District 1 city council, also dropped by to inspect ballots later in the day. Continue reading “Election notebook: Ballot inspections, Salt Creek vacancy”

Interim compromise on Bloomington city clerk’s salary: $87K not $104K

No final decision was made on Wednesday night, but Bloomington’s city council took a clear step towards giving the position of elected city clerk a big salary boost.

On a 7–2 vote, the council passed a resolution indicating its intent to set the clerk’s salary for 2024 at $87,000 . That would be a 34-percent increase over the $64,773 that the job pays this year.

Dissenting were Steve Volan and Kate Rosenbarger, who supported a higher figure of $104,089. The bigger number was in the original draft of the resolution put forward by Matt Flaherty.

Flaherty and Isabel Piedmont-Smith joined Volan and Rosenbarger in voting against an amendment put forward by Dave Rollo and Sue Sgambelluri, which decreased the amount to $87,000.

Unlike Volan and Rosenbarger, Flaherty and Piedmont-Smith were willing to support the compromise figure.

As Flaherty put it, “I can’t really support…the amendment—though, of course, if it passes, would support the resolution as a whole.” He added, “As a step forward, it’s better than nothing.”

Bloomington’s city clerk is Nicole Bolden, who is seeking re-election to her third four-year term this year. She is unopposed on this year’s Nov. 7 ballot, as she was in the Democratic Party’s primary. That’s the same pattern as in 2019 and 2015.

Bolden spoke on Wednesday night in support of the salary increase for the clerk’s position, noting the awkwardness of doing so. Continue reading “Interim compromise on Bloomington city clerk’s salary: $87K not $104K”

Bloomington city council to consider resolution on proposed $104K salary for city clerk

Cued up on the Bloomington city council’s meeting agenda for Wednesday (Sept. 6),  is one item for a final vote.

It’s a resolution that expresses the council’s intent to set the elected city clerk’s salary for 2024 at $104,089, which would be a significant increase.

For 2023 the clerk’s compensation is $64,773.

Incumbent clerk Nicole Bolden is this year seeking reelection to her third four-year term. Bolden appears on the Nov. 7 ballot as the Democratic Party’s nominee. She is unopposed.

Wednesday’s resolution requests that Bloomington mayor John Hamilton accommodate the bigger amount into the final budget appropriations that he eventually submits to the council on Sept. 27.  The final budget is set for an adoption vote on Oct. 11.

Also appearing on the Sept. 6 agenda is an ordinance that regulates obstructions of the public right-of-way.  The ordinance about the right-of-way is up just for a first reading on Wednesday, which means it will not get any discussion by the city council.

It’s the ordinance that the board of public works recommended in mid-August  that the city council adopt, in response to complaints about unhoused people blocking sidewalks with their belongings. The ordinance regulating obstructions of the right-of-way could get a vote the following week, at the council’s Sept. 13 meeting.

Continue reading “Bloomington city council to consider resolution on proposed $104K salary for city clerk”

Councilmembers talk salary boost for Bloomington clerk, council admin, and council itself

On the first night of Bloomington’s 2024 departmental budget hearings, Bloomington’s elected city clerk Nicole Bolden opened her presentation like this: “I’m going to start with the very big elephant in the room: This is not the budget proposal that I wanted to make to the council this evening.”

Non-union employees in the city will see a 5-percent salary increase as a part of the proposed 2024 budget.

But Bolden wants the city clerk’s position  paid substantially more, not just 5-percent more than the $64,773 that is specified in a 2023 salary ordinance. That’s the salary ordinance that covers elected city officials—the clerk, city councilmembers and the mayor.

No final decisions were made Monday night.

After the discussion of the clerk’s salary came some deliberations on the proposed salary for the city council’s administrator/attorney, Stephen Lucas.

The council appears to have already convinced the mayor to include in the 2024 proposed budget a substantial increase in the council administrator/attorney salary. After the meeting, Lucas told The B Square his understanding was that the increase for his position is 10.6 percent.

That would put the compensation for his position at around $104,000 for 2024.

In the proposed 2024 budget, the salaries for city councilmembers were erroneously left without the planned 5-percent increase, which would have meant a raise to $21,153 for 2024. But based on deliberations on Monday night, some councilmembers are looking to consider a more substantial increase for the position of city council.

Councilmember Dave Rollo said that based the information he had looked at, Bloomington city councilmembers are compensated “very poorly…much lower than the lowest quartile of city councils.” Rollo wants Lucas to pull together information about compensation for city councils in other second-class cities in the Hoosier state. Continue reading “Councilmembers talk salary boost for Bloomington clerk, council admin, and council itself”

Bender resigns as nominee for Bloomington District 6 city council, Dems will caucus to fill ballot

David Wolfe Bender has withdrawn as the Democratic Party’s District 6 city council nominee in Bloomington’s Nov. 7 municipal election.

Two weeks ago, on May 18, the county election board had convened a hearing on Bender’s disputed residency in District 6.

The board voted to refer the matter to Monroe County prosecutor Erika Oliphant, to consider possible felony charges, and to the Indiana attorney general Todd Rokita on the question of his eligibility as a candidate.

Since then, there has been no word on Bender’s case from either the prosecutor or the attorney general.

Given Bender’s withdrawal, the question of his eligibility is now academic.

Bender was unopposed in the primary. No Republican filed as a primary candidate.

To place a Democrat on the ballot, the party will now convene a caucus of the five sitting precinct chairs of District 6, according to Monroe County Democratic Party chair David Henry.

The date of the caucus has not yet been determined. But the deadline for filling a ballot vacancy, for either the Democrats or the Republicans, is July 3.

It was on Thursday afternoon when Bender filed the CAN 46 form, resigning his candidacy. Continue reading “Bender resigns as nominee for Bloomington District 6 city council, Dems will caucus to fill ballot”

Bloomington primary election 2023 photos: A look back to the distant past of one week ago

For the B Square’s day-of election coverage last Tuesday, words and numbers took priority over photographs.

But a complete record surely demands some photos, even if they’re late.

In that spirit, below is a set of photographs, in mostly chronological order, as they were taken during the day—at different polling places and then at the Cascades Inn where the local Democrats gathered to celebrate their victories. Continue reading “Bloomington primary election 2023 photos: A look back to the distant past of one week ago”

2023 Bloomington Democratic Party primary results: Thomson wins mayoral nomination, 5 of 9 councilmembers won’t return in 2024

On Tuesday, Kerry Thomson won a clear 10-point victory over second-place finisher Susan Sandberg in the race for the Democratic Party’s nomination for mayor of Bloomington.

[.pdf file of 2023 unofficial primary election results]

Thomson did not get a majority of the 8,012 votes in the three-way race.

Thomson’s 3,444 votes gave her about 43 percent of the vote, compared to 33 percent (2,644) for Susan Sandberg and 24 percent (1,924) for Don Griffin.

No Republican has yet declared a candidacy for mayor and no independent candidate has submitted the required 352 signatures to qualify for the November ballot. To appear on the ballot as an independent candidate for mayor or city council, qualifying signatures  have to be submitted by June 30.

So it’s likely that Thomson will be the next mayor of Bloomington. Incumbent mayor John Hamilton did not seek re-election. Continue reading “2023 Bloomington Democratic Party primary results: Thomson wins mayoral nomination, 5 of 9 councilmembers won’t return in 2024”

Alea iacta est: May 2, 2023 primary election results, served when ready

Primary Election Day polls for May 2, 2023 have now closed in Monroe County.

The cutoff time was 6 p.m., which made for a 12-hour voting day. But anyone in line by 6 p.m. has to be allowed to cast a ballot.

Bloomington voters are electing party nominees for mayor, clerk, and nine city council seats. Ellettsville voters are electing party nominees for clerk/treasurer and town council.

Preliminary results from Bloomington and Ellettsville precincts will be published as updates to this article as they are available.

Monroe County clerk Nicole Browne wrote in her 5 p.m. emailed message: “Please do not anticipate any results before 6:30 p.m. or 7 p.m.”

Voters who joined the line just before the closing of the polls are just one reason that results can’t be reported immediately at 6 p.m..

Geography also plays a role. There’s some physical distance that has to be covered, when teams from Primary Election Day polling locations across Bloomington and Ellettsville pack up their ballots, the memory devices from the ballot scanners, and other election documentation, and turn in the whole package to Election Central. Continue reading “Alea iacta est: May 2, 2023 primary election results, served when ready”

2023 Bloomington primary: Black Lives Matter B-town assesses Democratic Party candidates

Early Saturday (April 15), Black Lives Matter B-town  released its assessment of Democratic Party city primary candidates who responded to a survey that included 10 questions for all candidates and two questions just for mayoral or city council candidates.

Pull quote from the questionnaire. The quote reads: Do you believe that these trainings are effective to actually prevent racism, homophobia, transphobia and bias from happening in city government?

Sent the questionnaire were Democratic Party primary candidates for Bloomington mayor, city clerk and city council. The questionnaire was not sent to candidates affiliated with the Republican Party, because BLM B-town does not consider the party to be in alignment with its basic principles.

According to BLM B-town, their candidate assessments are provided to voters for informational purposes—they are not endorsements.

Candidates were given seven days to fill out the questionnaire, and were sent subsequent reminders after the survey was sent, according to BLM B-town

A total of 18 candidates wrote out answers to the questionnaire. It was designed to allow assessments of candidates in the categories of: Awareness, Position, Vision, Voices at the Table, Commitment & Effectiveness, Passion & Comportment.

Candidates are assessed on a scale ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”.

Some candidates did not respond to the questionnaire. About those candidates, BLM B-town wrote: “[C]andidates’ refusals to provide answers for this Voter’s Guide should remind us that the majority of the Bloomington political landscape is built to sustain anti-Black practices.”

BLM B-town gave candidates who did not respond to the BLM B-town questionnaire an assessment of “strongly disagree.” Continue reading “2023 Bloomington primary: Black Lives Matter B-town assesses Democratic Party candidates”

Transgender Day message: “You don’t have to let policy happen to you. You can happen to policy.”

On Sunday afternoon, around 150 people gathered on the southeast corner of the Monroe County courthouse in downtown Bloomington, for a celebration of the Transgender Day of Visibility.

Melanie Davis, with the LGBTIQ+ Community Center of Bloomington, kicked off the  the event by telling the crowd “There’s a lot of scary stuff going on. We all know, we’ve all felt it.”

The “scary stuff” that Davis was talking about includes some legislation now pending in the state legislature.

When state senator Shelli Yoder took the mic she talked about two bills: HB 1608 (Education matters); and SB 480 (Gender transition procedures for minors). Continue reading “Transgender Day message: “You don’t have to let policy happen to you. You can happen to policy.””