Democratic mayoral candidate Amanda Barge responded Friday morning to Mayor John Hamilton’s State of the City address Thursday night in a speech for press.
She called for better relationships with county and state government, more transparency and openness and more focus on basic infrastructure.
“You deserve a government that puts you first,” Barge said. “That puts people over politics and that values each resident’s concerns equally.”
Barge, currently a Monroe County commissioner, was critical of Hamilton’s address, which included two performances and a short video, saying she would take the event more seriously if she was elected mayor.
“Last night my opponent, whose city budget is at an unprecedented record high, held an event that blurred the lines between a festival performance and what the State of the City should be: A public report to the city council on the status of the city,” Barge said.
Barge said she doesn't think the mayor has followed his motto, “Say what we’ll do. Do what we say,” like he claimed in his address. She specifically addressed the ongoing annexation lawsuit which she said was a major mistake that harmed city-county and city-state relationships and something she would stop the moment she would get into office.
“Had we just talked to each other and planned together and listened to the 15,000 residents who were going to be impacted by the aggressive annexation plan and tackled issues more sensibly, the state may not have intervened,” Barge said.
Improving the relationship between the city government and the state and county governments was a major focal point of Barge’s speech, a direct contrast to Hamilton’s intense criticism of the state government in his address.
“Being progressive doesn’t mean snubbing people who don’t think like us,” Barge said. “A truly progressive city will actually welcome and listen to everyone, not just those who think or look like we do.”
While Hamilton focused on how Bloomington can change the world with forward thinking, Barge said, if elected, she would first focus on basic infrastructure and public safety issues. She said this would include addressing problems with sidewalks, sewers and the effects of climate change on people’s daily lives.
“Bloomington isn’t pretentious, and we expect a government to collaborate to get things done using smart, practical ideas with a roll-your-sleeves-up mentality that reflects our Bloomington values,” Barge said.
Barge also addressed larger issues facing the community such as addiction, mental health and affordable housing and re-emphasized the importance of the city and county working together.
“We are in an unprecedented time of a cooperation gap amongst these two entities,” Barge said. “You have my word that I will improve that relationship so we can all benefit.”