Two IU students are officially running for the Bloomington City Council.
Matt Flaherty, 33, a School of Public and Environmental Affairs graduate student is running for one of the three at-large positions and undergraduate Ryan Maloney, 25, a law and public policy major, is running for the District 5 position.
While several of the current council members have connections to the university, there are currently no students on the council.
“We’re underrepresented,” Maloney said. “I believe we deserve a voice.”
Flaherty and Maloney, both Democrats, are the first students to run since 2011.
Flaherty, a 2010 graduate of the Maurer School of Law, returned as a student to IU in the fall of 2017 to begin his master's at SPEA. Between law school and graduate school, he practiced law in Chicago. He moved back to Bloomington in 2013 and competed as a professional runner, made a small business coaching runners and pursued freelance journalism.
Flaherty is involved in two SustainIU working groups that focus on energy usage and transportation and is the vice president of the Energy Leaders Student Association, a student organization at SPEA focused on learning about the energy industry. Flaherty is also a member of the Bloomington Commission on Sustainability.
Much of Flaherty's platform focuses on his belief that every issue should be looked at through the lens of sustainability, especially social equity issues such as affordable housing with walkability to school or work.
“It’s the kind of thing I study everyday,” Flaherty said. “And the kind of thing that I want to bring to council.”
Flaherty said he thinks there needs to be more collaboration between the city and IU as well as the city and the county.
“As an IU student running for council, I’m uniquely positioned to bridge that gap,” Flaherty said.
Maloney is a senior at SPEA and transferred to IU in 2016 after attending community college in his hometown of Reno, Nevada. He has worked full time as a campus bus driver, charter bus driver and an adviser for the university while being a student throughout his time at IU. He also helped start the Monroe County chapter of Indiana Young Democrats.
For his campaign, Maloney said he will be running on a “common sense” platform and if elected he said he will focus on spending the city’s money on projects and infrastructure that make sense, such as public safety infrastructure and more parking.
He also wants to make spending more transparent by letting the public know about large purchases or spending well before it happens.
Maloney also said he will focus on helping IU students be aware of what’s happening in the city that may affect them so that they can come to city council meetings and express their concerns.
“A lot of IU students call this a second home,” Maloney said. “I think this is a great opportunity for them to voice their opinions about what’s going on in the community. I think a lot of the time, they don’t feel like they have the power to do so.”
Maloney has lived in District 5 for the three years he’s been in in Bloomington.
“I feel a connection to my neighborhood,” Maloney said. “I feel like I have a finger on the pulse of things.”
Maloney said he plans to stay in Bloomington after he graduates in May. He said he will support development in the city that will give students a reason to stay.
“I’d like to see more people from our generation, people graduating from IU, stay in this community and not have to move away to find a job,” Maloney said.
The Bloomington primary election will be in May.