Bloomington mayoral candidates: Susan Sandberg, Kerry Thomson and Don Griffin have officially filed for the Bloomington’s mayoral race.
All three candidates are in the Democratic Party and the primary will be May 2 and the election will be Nov. 7. The term for mayor lasts four years.
Kerry Thomson is the executive director of the Center for Rural Engagement at IU and CEO of Monroe County’s Habitat for Humanity. She said she has been a lifelong community builder and community leader.
She believes there is a lack of housing at all levels, so it’s important to create an implementable plan to make housing attainable at all levels from students to executives. The cause is one of her top priorities.
“Diversity to me means ethnic diversity,” Thomson said. “It means thought diversity, religious diversity, there are all kinds of different diversity. And part of what we need to do is invite all those voices to the table and welcome them into leadership.”
On transportation, Thomson said it’s important to connect the people of Bloomington in a greater capacity. As a city bus rider and cyclist, she said public transportation can provide this connection given progress is made.
Susan Sandberg, the former Bloomington City Council president, and a member of the council for 16 years, was succeeded by Sue Sgambelluri on Jan. 11.
She said her key issues will be community safety, affordability and being much more collaborative with all the different systems within the City of Bloomington.
“My top priorities are clearly a Bloomington that works for you and a Bloomington that works for all,” she said. “We owe it to the community to provide the best services that we possibly can within out budgetary restraints.”
Sandberg said Bloomington’s on the right path in terms of transportation. She spoke about the council approving a local income tax increase. She expects a large part of that to go toward public transportation.
She said it is important to make a reliable east-west loop so that students can easily travel between Indiana University and Ivy Tech.
She also said that transit plays a role in environmental protection.
“In my administration, I want to have some broader policies that include things like better land management, green space preservation, local food production and I am very concerned about the protection of Lake Monroe," she said.
On housing, Sandberg said Bloomington becomes more affordable when a person earns more income, so economic development is a piece of that as the city looks at how to provide affordable housing.
“We have city codes that keep housing inspections going, that keep apartment living safe for everyone, and that makes sure tenants are protected,” Sandberg said. “With respect to affordability, that is something that we need to pay attention to.”
“I think outside of the box when it comes to housing, and I can use my resources to find ways to create more affordable housing and housing in general,” Griffin said. “For 30 years that's been my thing.”
He said homeownership makes creating generational wealth easier. That said, in Bloomington, 39% of the current households are owner-occupied, and he has a goal of increasing this to 50% within five years.
Griffin said he wants to make Bloomington more Bloomington by embracing arts and culture. He wants to create a community where Bloomington is not only a destination but also a gathering place where there are more opportunities for performances and the artists can stay and hone their crafts here.
“We got a history here of music and art and I think that’s who we become,” he said. “It’s pie in the sky, but I want Bloomington to become the arts and music capital of the Midwest.”
Mayor Hamilton’s response
Hamilton said he is proud of all the work he and his administration have done and remains hopeful for the future of Bloomington.
“You know, being a mayor, you got a lot of things on your plate,” he said. “You got to stay focused on the future and you got to stay focused on the big picture.”
There are various issues he hopes to see resolved by the next administration. These include affordable housing, economic growth, addressing the climate emergency, expanding the transit system and building and embracing diversity.
“All of these major issues are going to need continued attention,” Hamilton said. “I think the next mayor needs to bring the right vision for where the city is going and the ability to keep energizing and motivating people to work together on that.”
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to specify Griffin's current work as a real estate agent and Sue Sgambelluri's current position as president of the Bloomington City Council.