2023 Outlook

In May 2023’s Democratic Primary, Bloomington will elect a new Mayor and City Council. (There’s a general election in November, but in Bloomington that’s a formality with respect to local government. This is a one-party Democratic town; practically speaking, the matter is decided in May.)

The City Council districts have been redrawn, and the impact is significant. Key incumbents will be displaced.

This is the new Bloomington City Council District Map. Click on it to access the interactive version online.

Here’s the link to the declarations of candidacy and related documents.

This page will be updated at regular intervals as we learn more about the candidates.

The Mayoral Race

Bloomington will have a new Mayor in 2024. Incumbent John Hamilton has declined to run for a third term. There are three declared candidates for Mayor:

  • Donald Griffin, who left his position as Hamilton’s Deputy Mayor at the end of 2022. Here’s coverage of his announcement.
  • Susan Sandberg, At-Large Council Member and last year’s City Council President.
  • Kerry Thomson, current executive director of the Indiana University Center for Rural Engagement and former CEO of Bloomington’s Habitat for Humanity chapter.

City Clerk

  • Nicole Bolden is running for re-election, unopposed. (Laudably, she’s running a campaign anyway.)

Bloomington Dissident Democrats endorses Nicole Haughton Bolden for City Clerk.

The City Council

The City Council will see turnover, and possibly an ideological shift. The Council has been split, with a minority of four representatives (Dist. 1 Rep. Kate Rosenbarger, Dist. 5 Rep. Isabel Piedmont-Smith, Dist. 6 Rep. Steve Volan and At-Large Rep. Matt Flaherty) aligning themselves into a self-identified “Progressive Caucus.” (In 2023, they’re running for re-election as a slate.) They have championed upzoning and a variety of other top-down administration initiatives, and controversially boycotted Council Community of the Whole meetings. The alignment has left Dist. 2 Rep. Sue Sgambelluri, Dist. 3 Rep. Ron Smith, Dist. 4 Rep. Dave Rollo and At-Large Rep. Susan Sandberg loosely comprising a pragmatist wing of the Council. At-Large Rep. Jim Sims has been a swing vote; he cast the deciding vote to pass the 2021 upzoning amendment to the UDO, but has often sided with the pragmatists on contentious votes.

Sims has announced that he will not run for re-election. Sandberg is a declared candidate for Mayor, and thus must give up her At-Large Council seat. Thus, at least two At-Large seats are up for grabs. The declared candidates for the three At-Large Council seats are:

  • Isak Nti Asare, an IU cybersecurity professor who was a Democratic primary candidate for the 9th Congressional District.
  • Matt Flaherty, an incumbent At-Large Council member, identified with the self-proclaimed “Progressive Caucus” on the very divided Council.
  • Andy Ruff, a former five-term At Large Council Member who lost his seat in 2019, but is back for another run.
  • Lois Sabo-Skelton, a Green Acres resident and former school board member.
  • Jonas Schrodt, a comedian and manager at the Comedy Attic, and winemaker at the Brown County Winery, a family business.
  • Ryne Shadday, a local realtor.
  • Steve Volan, who has been redistricted out of his current downtown District 6, and evidently does not care to oppose Dave Rollo for the seat in the new District 5.

Bloomington Dissident Democrats endorses Andy Ruff for City Council At Large.

District 1

Current D-1 is represented by Kate Rosenbarger, but a shift in boundaries means the Prospect Hill resident is now in D-2. She will have to run against D-2 incumbent Sue Sgambelluri. Redistricted D-1 is now the seat held by incumbent Isabel Piedmont-Smith (formerly D-5). She’ll be opposed by Joe Lee, a Bryan Park resident, Herald-Times cartoonist, writer and pundit.

Bloomington Dissident Democrats endorses Joe Lee, the challenger, in District 1.

District 2

Sue Sgambelluri, the recently elected City Council President, is the incumbent in the expanded D-2. Her competition is current D-1 incumbent Kate Rosenbarger, a co-chair of Griffin’s mayoral campaign along with Jim Sims, who has been redistricted out of her current District 1 seat.

Bloomington Dissident Democrats endorses Sue Sgambelluri for re-election in District 2.

District 3

Ron Smith is the incumbent. His declared primary opponents are Indiana University sophomore Conner Wright, whose main expressed interest is in transportation and parking issues, and Hopi Stosberg, a former teacher and PTO President (wife of Mark Stosberg, pro-densification ideologue and former Bike and Pedestrian Safety Commissioner), who once ran for a school board seat. Republican Brett Heinisch also has announced a run for the District 3 seat.

Bloomington Dissident Democrats endorses Ron Smith for re-election in District 3.

District 4

Dave Rollo is the incumbent. He is unopposed and, barring a Republican nomination (who would be a long shot in Bloomington) or entry by petition of an independent in the general election, he will serve another term.

Bloomington Dissident Democrats endorses Dave Rollo for re-election in District 4.

District 5

D-5 is an open-seat district in the southeast area of the city. Shruti Rana, lawyer, assistant dean in the Hamilton Lugar School and former Monroe County Democratic Party vice chair, is running here. Her opponent is Jenny Stevens, a grant accountant in IU’s Physics Department.

District 6

District 6 is a mess. With Volan redistricted out of the geographic district, the only candidate has been IU student David Wolfe Bender. But Bender’s residency in the district was challenged; during a formal hearing by the Monroe County Board of Elections, Bender offered to withdraw from the primary, although there appears to be no mechanism for removing him from the ballot even if he faces an adverse ruling. So he will win the primary by default. The next step, if Bender does withdraw, will be selection of a replacement candidate by a panel of five Democratic precinct chairs in District 6. But that will have to wait until at least May 18, when the Board of Elections holds a follow-up hearing. Stay tuned.

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