From left: Councilmembers Steve Volan, Susan Sandberg, and Jim SIms (Jan. 11, 2023).
From left: Councilmembers Dave Rollo, Matt Flaherty, Kate Rosenbarger, and Isabel Piedmont-Smith (Jan. 11, 2023).
From left: Councilmembers Jim Sims, Susan Sandberg, and Sue Sgambelluri (Jan. 11, 2023).
After serving the past two years as vice president of the Bloomington city council, Sue Sgambelluri has been chosen by her colleagues as council president for 2023.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the vote on Sgambelluri’s selection was 8–1, with dissent from Steve Volan. Even though the vote was not unanimous, the split was not as severe as last year’s 5–4 tally that gave Susan Sandberg the gavel for 2022.
One big source of contention for the last three years on Bloomington’s city council has been disagreement about how the legislative process should be handled, and the role of committees in that process.
The legislative process was the topic of Sgambelluri’s first act as council president, after assigning seats on the dais. She established a four-member special committee on council processes, to be chaired by Matt Flaherty, who served as parliamentarian in 2021.
Reaching Monroe County, Indiana on Tuesday was a tiny ripple from the political splash that was made when congressional Republicans took 15 rounds of voting to finally settle last Saturday on Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House.
The little wavelet came in the form of county councilor Marty Hawk’s participation in Tuesday’s unanimous votes to reelect Kate Wiltz as council president and Trent Deckard as president pro tem.
Hawk is the sole Republican representative on the seven-member county council. The other six are Democrats.
It was the fact that Hawk participated in the votes at all that made it a little remarkable. Last year’s officer elections were typical for her historical approach: “As I have done in the past, I will pass on this, because I believe it is up to the majority caucus to decide what’s going to happen here, and I wish you well.”
Last year she had prefaced her remarks by saying, “If you succeed, that means the entire council will succeed and so I’m happy to work well with whoever the majority puts forward.”
Above: Bloomington city councilmember Jim Sims before the council’s Nov. 30, 2022 committee-of-the-whole meeting. Attendance at the Nov. 30, 2022 committee-of-the-whole meeting was 100 percent, as Sue Sgambelluri and Matt Flaherty joining remotely by Zoom.
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.
Last Wednesday, the annual election of Bloomington city council officers—president, vice president, and parliamentarian—took about an hour.
On a vote that was split 5–4, the council put Susan Sandberg, instead of Matt Flaherty, in the president’s chair. On a vote that was also split 5–4, the council returned Sue Sgambelluri to the vice president’s seat, instead of putting Flaherty there.
Questioning of candidates for the leadership positions was sharp, fueled by conflicts over the first two years of the current council’s four-year term.
Even though Dave Rollo was the only candidate put forward for parliamentarian, he was questioned by Flaherty in a way that alluded to an aggravated verbal exchange between the two at an early March 2021 meeting.
The 5–4 split was the same for the vote on president and vice president.
Voting for Sandberg and Sgambelluri were: Susan Sandberg, Sue Sgambelluri, Dave Rollo, Ron Smith, and Jim Sims. Voting for Flaherty both times were: Matt Flaherty, Kate Rosenbarger, Isabel Piedmont-Smith, and Steve Volan.
No one dissented on the vote for Rollo as parliamentarian.