During the 2011 primary election, District 6 city council member Steve Volan said only 275 people voted in his district out of the approximately 14,000 who live there.
“I’ve had more people at my house for a rager than showed up to vote,” Volan said.
However, the lack of votes was not shocking he said. Many students live in Volan’s district and do not participate in local elections, which is something Volan wants to change.
Volan, 53, said one of his main goals as he runs unopposed for re-election is to convince more people to treat students like true city residents.
Luci McKean, a friend of Volan’s from his involvement with TEDxBloomington and the Lotus Festival, said Volan is particularly attentive to his student constituents.
“He listens to them in an equitable manner and respects them,” McKean said. “ I think that’s very valuable.”
She said while students don’t usually participate in local government, city residents also don’t usually view students as true residents. McKean said Volan sees this as a mistake.
“He reminds us all to take the university population seriously,” she said.
Working to better manage city parking and public transit and creating affordable housing that will not jeopardize current single-family housing are other goals Volan has for his next term on city council.
Volan has been a DJ at WFHB and anchored Thursday’s “Afternoon Music Mix” since the early '90s. He was also a founding board member of the Lotus Music Festival in 1994, which he now emcees each year. Volan is also an emcee at the annual Volunteers in Tutoring Adult Learners’ quiz bowl at the Monroe County Public Library.
He authored the ordinance that created the city’s Parking Commission in 2016, which produces annual reports on parking and works to create policy. He believes that the city offering cheap, accessible parking is wrongly supporting car usage.
“Private cars are the ones that take up the most space and use the most resources,” Volan said. “We don’t need to be subsidizing cars, we need to be subsidizing public transit.”
Volan said he thinks parking should be more expensive and the revenue from parking should be put toward public transit. This would disincentivize car usage, which would decrease fossil fuel use and allow the city to create a better bus system, he said.
Bloomington’s growth has affected Volan’s district heavily. He said some of the neighborhoods in his district were targeted by developers who have taken out single-family houses and built large apartment buildings. He said he wants to protect single-family housing while supporting the creation of more housing.
In Bloomington's newly proposed Unified Devlopment Ordinance, some single-family housing is being re-zoned to allow the possibility of more dense multiplex options. Volan said this is a concern throughout the city.
“Other neighborhoods are rightly afraid of being the neighborhoods I represent,” Volan said.
Volan will graduate with a Master of Arts from IU in May after writing his thesis paper on how campuses emulate cities and how college campuses and students interact with the cities they live in. Volan also teaches a chess class at IU.
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