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Sunday, May 19
The Indiana Daily Student

city politics bloomington

Three candidates express intent to caucus for District 5 vacancy on Bloomington city council

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Three candidates have announced they plan to stand as candidates in an upcoming Monroe County Democratic Party caucus to replace councilmember Shruti Rana, who recently announced she will step down from her position as the District 5 councilmember Feb. 7.  

The three candidates who have publicized their intent to run for the position are former Bloomington Fire Chief Jason Moore, local activist Courtney Daily and former city council candidate Jenny Stevens.  

Moore, who resigned as the city’s fire chief in December 2023, announced his candidacy in the caucus in a press release. Moore had served as Bloomington’s fire chief since 2016 and alluded to issues within the fire department as the cause of his resignation.  

“There is no easy way to say it, but the functions of government must carry on,” Moore said in an email sent to District 5 precinct chairs. “I am stepping up because I want to continue my service to the residents of the city that my family and I love. While this would change how I serve, compared to my previous role, it is important to know that my previous experience will make me more effective for our community.”  

Daily also announced her intent to caucus Sunday. Daily previously led the Indiana Chapter of the grassroots movement Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. In a press release, Daily said she would focus on improving universal access to affordable housing and healthcare, strengthening diversity and inclusion and bettering government transparency. Daily is also a District 5 precinct chair for the Monroe County Democratic Party.  

Stevens, who ran in the May 2023 District 5 Democratic primary, also expressed her intent to caucus.  Stevens has lived in Bloomington since 1995 and said she learned more about District 5 constituents’ concerns while campaigning for the council seat in 2023.  

“I’m very enthusiastic about the potential to serve,” Stevens said. “Since I’ve walked in every neighborhood and precinct, I have some direct information from residents. Every neighborhood has different concerns.” 

Monroe County Democratic Party Chair David Henry said he has not scheduled the caucus yet. According to Indiana Code, the District 5 precinct chairs must meet to select an individual to fill the council vacancy within 30 days after the vacancy occurs. Indiana Code also requires Henry to notify precinct chairs of the caucus at least 10 days before it is planned to take place.

  

This means that depending on when the chair schedules the caucus, the Bloomington city council may temporarily operate with eight members. The Monroe County Democratic Party has until March 8, 30 days after Rana will step down on Feb. 7, to hold the caucus, according to Indiana Code. There are four city council sessions scheduled between Feb. 7 and March 8 wherein the council could operate with a vacancy. 

This Saturday, the Monroe County Democratic Party precinct chairs will select a candidate to fill the vacant Monroe County treasurer position. The current Monroe County Auditor Catherine Smith intends to stand as a candidate in the caucus and, if she were selected, it would lead to a vacancy in the auditor’s office. The Monroe County Democratic Party would need to call another caucus to fill this vacancy.  

Henry said he is trying to hold multiple caucuses on the same day to get higher precinct chair attendance.  

"Even if state code allows us to do it earlier, there is value in trying to make sure that our committee members' time is not monopolized and that they are able to take several votes on one day rather than trying to do successive Saturdays and Sundays to gather everybody," Henry said. "I would much rather have high attendance with multiple caucuses (in one day) than low attendance at one caucus."  

Henry said he is also trying to schedule a caucus to replace Rana as vice chair of the Monroe County Democratic Party. However, he said he is focusing on scheduling the caucuses for auditor and District 5 representative first.  

"Those are offices of public trust, and while they're all important, voters voted for the auditor and District 5 representative," Henry said. "In my mind, getting those officials back into play and doing the work of government is probably a little more important than the vice chair race, which is a political office."  

Henry said he is looking to schedule the District 5 caucus on Feb. 21 at the earliest. He also said the Monroe County Democratic Party wants to host candidate forums before the District 5 caucus.  

"I think it's really important that whoever is joining the council has had a chance to meet the public and answer public questions,” Henry said. “After all, being a city councilperson is very much about answering questions from public comment and being a good, responsive person to constituents. So, I don't see any reason why someone seeking an office through a caucus should not have an opportunity to meet the public." 

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