Andrew Guenther is 24, gay, and the only Republican running so far for Bloomington City Council.
The IU law and public policy graduate was a Democrat for years. He switched parties in 2015 after taking classes for his major and realizing his values did not fully align with the Democratic party. He said he believes simple, local government works best and should have more power than the federal government.
“I’m a local-government Republican,” Guenther, who would represent District 2, said.
Guenther, chair of the city’s Environmental Commission, said he enjoys working in the city government. Despite that, he thinks the city council passes too many plans that don’t have a lot of public support.
He said he thinks the pending transportation plan that is currently being amended by the city council will not be amended enough when it is passed. Guenther is worried the plan will cause traffic back-ups, more air pollution and bad runoff in his district.
District 2 includes IU’s Central Neighborhood, houses along Jordan and North Jordan avenues and many student housing complexes near the stadium. Guenther said he wants to incentivize affordable student housing and work with nonprofits to provide more single-family affordable housing in Bloomington.
“I think it’s not a question of either or, I think it can be both,” Guenther said.
Guenther does not support the Food and Beverage Tax implemented February 2018 which places a 1 percent tax on all prepared food and beverages in Bloomington. The revenue from this tax is going to the Monroe Convention Center expansion.
“The students are paying for it, and how often are they going to use the convention center?” said William Ellis, Monroe County Republican Party chair. “I think Guenther will bring a balanced view to this.”
Guenther said he has gotten criticism from what he called traditional Democrats in Bloomington for being a Republican despite not supporting some Republican-led policies such as weakening environmental regulations.
Ellis said he thinks the criticism is ridiculous because Guenther isn’t involved with national politics.
“Andrew is not running for Congress, he’s not running for president, he’s running for Bloomington city council,” Ellis said. “If someone’s not worried about things at home, that’s when things go bad.”
Guenther has lived in Bloomington since 2013 when he started school at IU. During his time here, he has worked in a variety of local government positions.
Guenther said he is planning to meet with students in all areas of his district to discuss what they think about living in Bloomington and the kind improvements they think the city needs.
“People hear Republican, and they think I don’t care about affordable housing or I don’t care about the environment, but that’s not true,” Guenther said. “I just think those things can be better managed on a local level as opposed to a top-down approach.”