People of all ages crowded into the small event building behind Upland Brewing Company on Tuesday night.
“Amanda! Amanda! Amanda!” they chanted.
Amanda Barge, vice president of the Monroe County Commissioners, formally announced Tuesday night she will be running to be Bloomington’s next mayor.
In November, Barge announced that she would be going on a listening tour to hear the where the community’s needs lie. She said Tuesday night that the listening tour was one of the best experiences she’s had.
“I believe what makes this community so great is the people,” Barge said. “When we listen to each other, when we love each other, when we respect each other, we will have a strong community and that will be a government that works for everyone. It’ll work for you on day one.”
As a Monroe County Commissioner, Barge established the Monroe county commissions for affordable housing and handling the opioid crisis.
IU senior Arielle Hacker is a social work student who met Barge while interning in the Monroe County government. Now, she’s serving as her deputy campaign manager.
“She’s really driven, passionate, transparent,” Hacker said. “She’s really involved in the community.”
Barge was a social worker before she got involved in local politics.
“So much of what government does is reacting constantly,” Barge said. “As a social worker, you’re trained to be proactive and see problems coming.”
Barge said she is passionate about bringing marginalized people to the table.
“I’m not rich,” Barge said. “I’m a regular person who has worries and who understands the struggle of having to juggle it all as a mom, as a worker, as somebody who just wants to do the right thing.”
Barge said she thinks it’s crucial that the city government and IU work together and communicate, especially on public safety issues like sexual assault. Barge grew up in Bloomington and graduated IU with degrees in gender studies and political science.
“Students give us so much while they’re here and I want to make this community more creative and more fun,” Barge said. “I think involving students is the absolute best way to do that.”
Barge supported current mayor John Hamilton when he ran for mayor but said she thinks he doesn't listen to his constituents enough. Seeing his faults encouraged her to run for office, Barge said.
If she wins, she will be Bloomington’s first female mayor since 1994.