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Saturday, March 2
The Indiana Daily Student

politics bloomington

Jennifer Crossley makes history as Monroe County’s first Black woman council member


Jennifer Crossley became the first Black woman to serve as a Monroe County Council member after being appointed to the Monroe County Council District 4 seat Dec. 19.

Crossley served as the Monroe County Democratic Party’s Chair for two years, but resigned from the position following her appointment to county council. Bloomington City Clerk Nicole Bolden said Crossley was the first Black chair of the Monroe County Democratic Party. Crossley will continue to set new precedents as the first Black woman county council member.

Prior to her work in public office, Crossley became a member of both Moms Demand Action and the National Organization for Women, and is still active in both. Crossley said running for public office had always been in the back of her mind, but it wasn’t until the 2020 presidential election that she decided to pursue this goal.

“I always wanted to be a part of different organizations and groups,” Crossley said. “Now that we have made our home here with our kids and I just wanted to be involved as much as I could.”

In addition to her public service, Crossley works a full-time job and has three children with her husband, Justin Bolden. Bolden said Crossley is a powerhouse, highlighting her exemplary work and ability to balance her many responsibilities.

“She served as the first Black chair of our county party, a job that is difficult under the best circumstances,” Bolden said. “In her tenure, she navigated incredibly complicated and painful community issues with grace, poise and fierce leadership.”

Crossley said while she has only attended two county council meetings so far, she is quickly learning rules and procedures and connecting with other county council members.

“There's a wealth of knowledge that is on the county council and I'm just looking to continue to attach myself to that and learn all it is that I can,” Crossley said.

County Councilmember Trent Deckard said Crossley brings a historic, diligent voice to the county council. Deckard said he’s known Crossley since before she was appointed to county council and said she has always been a passionate advocate and active member of her community.

“She also has the ability to never shy away from two things, weighing in when people need to weigh in and at the same time doing the hard work herself,” Deckard said.

Deckard said Crossley’s time spent in local organizations, political leadership roles and as a Monroe County resident qualify her to understand complicated local issues from different perspectives.

Crossley said she hopes to address issues within the criminal justice system, specifically probation, as well as assist the local unhoused population. 

“It's not just the city's problem, it's also not just the county's problem, but it is both bodies' problem,” Crossley said.

Crossley said she hopes to continue to serve her constituents and her community well into the future. She said she has already begun working on her campaign for reelection Nov. 8.

Both Bolden and Deckard said they are confident Crossley has the skills and knowledge to run an effective reelection campaign. The only advice Bolden said she would offer Crossley is to remember why she’s running, take care of herself and  enjoy the process.

“She was there with all of us campaigning by our sides when we ran,” Deckard said. “If she does what she's done so far, it will go exceedingly well for her.”

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