Jim Sims became the second African American to serve on Bloomington’s City Council when he was caucused in to replace a retiring council member in August 2017.
Sims, 62, is running for re-election for one of three at-large Bloomington City Council seats. If re-elected, Sims said he would work to eliminate racial discrimination, increase housing density while protecting the charm of core neighborhoods, keep taxes low and support businesses that pay a living wage.
Sims comes from a background of community involvement and leadership as an Eagle Scout, former president of Monroe County NAACP and a retired IU Residential Programs and Services area manager. He has also been on numerous city and county commissions and boards for public safety, housing and planning.
Through his community involvement, he learned the importance of working well with others.
“I think we have a bunch of leaders on council,” Sims said. “I’m more of a collaborative person.”
William Hosea, chairman of the Board of Commissioners for the Bloomington Housing Authority and a friend of Sims, said because Sims was already so involved in the community before being elected onto council, he was ready to serve when Tim Mayer retired.Sims was sworn in on a Monday and attended his first council meeting as a member on the Wednesday of the same week.
“He hit the ground running,” Hosea said. “He was already versed on the issues. If there was a learning curve, it was a small one.”
Sims said he supports quality job creation and wages that will support a decent living.
He has two grown children, 46 and 37, who also live in Bloomington. He said they were lucky enough to find jobs, but he wants more young adults to have the same fortune.
“What is the incentive for them to stay if there’s no job opportunities?” Sims said. “How can we keep some of our talent here to improve our community?”
Sims also is concerned about housing. While working at RPS, Sims had many employees who lived in different towns or even counties.
“Many of them, at entry level pay, could flat out not afford living in the city,” Sims said.
He believes slightly increasing density in core neighborhoods without ruining their character will be important to increasing housing inventory. Sims said there are other areas to build affordable housing outside of the core neighborhoods as well.
If elected, Sims said he would conduct an “All Around Town” initiative in which he would meet with all of the neighborhoods around the city to better understand the concerns of residents.
Earon Davis, friend of Sims and president-elect of Bloomington Rotary Club, said Sims has a unique ability to listen to different perspectives while sticking to his morals.
“He tends not to overreact to things,” Davis said. “He’s very level-headed but determined.”
Hosea said through Sim’s lived experience as a minority in Bloomington, he is able to represent the under-represented.
“From a cultural and racial perspective, I bring a different standpoint,” Sims said.
Early voting for Bloomington’s primary elections started last week at Monroe County Election Central on Seventh Street. Election day is May 7.