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Three city council members unseated following low turnout in Bloomington primary


Deputy city clerk Nico Sigler hugs city council president Dave Rollo Tuesday at the Dimension Mill. Rollo secured the nomination for city council District 4 in Tuesday’s election. Alex Deryn

About 100 people celebrated Democratic victories and recognized losses in the Bloomington municipal primary election Tuesday night at an event organized by Mayor John Hamilton's campaign and the Monroe County Democratic Party.

People stood feet from a projection screen waiting for results to come in. Two kids jumped up and down on a couch as the crowd applauded uncontested victories.

“We are all part of a great Democratic team,” Hamilton said as he accepted his nomination.

Twenty city council candidates appeared on the ballot. Recent IU graduate and District 2 City Council candidate Andrew Guenther is the only Republican in the race.

Voting on election day was open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Candidates began filing into the watch party at the Dimension Mill around 6:30 p.m.

Hamilton's campaign manager Kaisa Goodman said the Democrats chose the office space in the Bloomington Trades District because it symbolizes Bloomington’s growing economy. The Trades District was one of Hamilton’s first-term projects.

Hamilton won renomination with 4,065 votes. While former Monroe County commissioner Amanda Barge appeared on the ballot, she previously announced she would not accept the nomination even if she were to receive more votes than Hamilton.

Barge suspended her mayoral campaign less than a day after the Indiana Daily Student published a story detailing sexual assault allegations against her. She resigned as Monroe County commissioner in early April after several groups including the Monroe County Democratic Party and Black Lives Matter Bloomington called for her to step down.

Barge still received 766 votes.

Of 53,254 registered voters, 5,390 Bloomington residents cast votes.

Just 15 votes unseated District 2 incumbent and former city council president Dorothy Granger in favor of challenger Sue Sgambelluri.

IU junior Daniel Creech said he showed up to his polling place at the Indiana Memorial Union at 1 p.m., a little more than halfway through election day voting. Staff told him he was the twelfth person to vote there.

“It was pretty surprising,” he said.

Junior Trisa Chakraborty, finance and events coordinator for Hamilton's campaign, said she was also troubled to see the low turnout given students’ enthusiasm in the 2018 midterm elections.

“You’d think that after that point people sort of realized that elections matter,” Chakrabortysaid.

Despite Barge pulling out of the race, Goodman said Hamilton's campaign continued to canvass to promote civic engagement and support the highly contested city council races.

“I just want people to vote,” Goodman said.

Independent candidate Nile Arena announced he would run for mayor after Barge dropped out of the race. He needs to collect at least 522 signatures by July 1 to appear on the November general election ballot.

All candidates were invited to speak after winners accepted their nominations. Almost every candidate congratulated the many people who ran and mentioned legislation the council will cover ahead of November’s general elections.

“I am not going to be a lame duck,” Granger said. “You need to know that.”

Susan Sandberg, an at-large incumbent who secured renomination Tuesday, mentioned the Unified Development Ordinance, affordable housing and regulating scooters as significant projects city council will soon consider. The council meets Wednesday to vote on a food and beverage tax to fund the Monroe Convention Center expansion.

Monroe County Democratic Party Chair Jennifer Crossley emphasized the importance of continuing momentum not just until the general election but to 2020.

“Everything is at stake,” she said.

The Indiana Daily Student compiled a full list of election results here.

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