Denise Valkyrie, 54, is running for the Bloomington City Council’s District 1 seat and self-identifies as a working class person.
Valkyrie, if elected, wants to support businesses who pay their employees a living wage, advocate for more reliable public transit and create better access to health care. Her main goal is to be an advocate for the working class, which she said makes up a large part of her district.
“A lot of people have to decide whether to pay for electricity, for gas, for medications or for clothes for their kids,” Valkyrie said.
With numerous health emergencies between her and her husband, she said she has been in tough financial situations from high medical bills. They moved to Bloomington about 18 years ago and built their home with Habitat for Humanity shortly after arriving.
Robert Deppert, a friend of Valkyrie’s from the social activism community and a District 1 resident, said he thinks Valkyrie would listen and understand her constituents.
“She’s going to be more of a voice of what people in my district have been through,” Deppert said. “My district is a working class district, it always has been.”
Valkyrie has held many jobs and has taken classes part-time for her bachelor's degree in liberal arts on-and-off for over 20 years. Among other jobs, she has worked as a child advocate in courts for abused children, an accountant at a bank, an Uber driver, an assistant director of a recent documentary and on production crews for WFYI and WTIU.
She is currently the administrative support coordinator for IU’s radio and TV stations.
“I’m not afraid of hard work,” Valkyrie said. “What I like to do is work smart.”
Public transit is a main concern of Valkyrie’s. She wants to help low-income people be able to take a bus to a food pantry and rely on buses for all their needs instead of walking long distances.
However, she said she also thinks cars will still be needed because not everyone can ride bikes. She supported the rebuild of the Fourth Street parking garage, which city council approved last week.
“Cars aren’t going away,” Valkyrie said. “How those cars are built is what has to change. How those cars run has to change.”
Valkyrie got involved in the local political action scene after the 2016 elections as one of the organizers of a group of Indiana women who went to Washington, D.C., for the first Women’s March in 2017. She also helped organize the Indianapolis Women's March in 2018.
Deppert said he encouraged her to take her interests a step further and run for office, and he said she took it to heart.
Health care is also an important issue to Valkyrie. She said she wants to work with the county to eliminate health care deserts for people in rural areas.
Valkyrie said she wants to reach out to the student population as well to hear students’ opinions and needs. She said many graduate students live in her district, and some live at or below poverty level. She said she doesn’t like how city council has historically not involved students in decision making.
“It’s leaving a whole demographic out,” Valkyrie said.
She also wants to see students come out and vote.
“Starting Tuesday, I would love to see college students line up just like they did for the midterm elections,” Valkyrie said.
Early voting starts April 9 at the Monroe County Election Center on Morton Street.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Denise Valkyrie’s role in the Bloomington Women’s March. Valkyrie organized a group of Indiana women who went to the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., in 2017 and helped organize the Indianapolis Women’s March in 2018. The IDS regrets this error.