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Sunday, April 21
The Indiana Daily Student

city politics

Meet the four Democratic candidates for the Monroe County Council’s at-large seats

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Editors note: This is part of a series of stories covering the 2024 elections. Read the rest of the stories here.

Four democrats Cheryl Munson, David Henry, Matt Caldie and Trent Deckard are competing their party’s nomination in the race for three at-large seats on the Monroe County Council.  

The Monroe County Council is responsible for adopting the county’s annual budget and fixing tax rates to raise funds to meet budget requirements. The council also authorizes the county’s expenditures and approves job descriptions and salaries for all Monroe County offices.  

There are seven members on the council four representatives from specific districts and three at-large members. Each council member is elected to a four-year term. Currently, Deckard, Munson and Geoff McKim serve as the council’s at-large representatives. McKim is not seeking re-election to the position.  

No Republican candidates filed declarations of candidacy to compete for the at-large seats by the Feb. 9 filing deadline.  

Former Bloomington mayoral candidate Joe Davis also expressed he plans to run for a seat on the council as an independent. However, this means he will not appear on the primary ballot in May. The deadline for Davis to file his declaration of candidacy is July 15.  

Cheryl Munson  

If re-elected to her seat, Munson would serve her fourth term on the council. However, her involvement in local government began almost three decades ago.  

Munson moved to Monroe County in 1971 when her husband, Patrick, accepted a job at IU. She later joined the IU Anthropology Department as a research scientist. She said that when she first joined the Glenn Black Laboratory of Archaeology, she was one of only a few women. She retired from this role in 2021. 

Munson’s first venture into government was when she ran for a seat on the Indian Creek Township Board of Trustees in 1994. Munson said she was inspired to run for office after witnessing dysfunction within the township’s government and fire department.  

“Logic failed,” Munson said. “It was a political problem, and it needed a political solution.” 

She served on the board for 16 years. Munson has also volunteered for Planned Parenthood, several Monroe County Community School Corporation committees, 4-H and other youth support programs, according to her campaign website.  

Munson said she has focused her campaign on her experience working in county government. In addition to serving on the council, she served on several county boards and commissions, including the Monroe County Historic Preservation Board, the County Plan Review Committee, the County Extension Advisory Board and the council’s Community Services Grant Committee. She also served as the council liaison to several county departments. 

During her time on the council, Munson helped find money to increase the number of road sheriff deputies in rural areas of Monroe County and voted to increase funding for the county’s youth services bureau. In March 2021, Munson sat on the council that appropriated $300,000 from the county’s food and beverage tax revenue to make debt payments for the expanded Monroe County Convention Center. 

The incumbent candidate said she is running again because she wants to see the county complete two major projects: expanding the Monroe County Convention Center and constructing a new justice center.  

The council unanimously approved an interlocal agreement between the city and county Feb. 13 outlining a plan to expand the Monroe County Convention Center, located at the intersection of College Avenue and Third Street. Since the county commissioners approved the plan Feb. 21, the Bloomington city council must sign off on the interlocal agreement. The resolution to approve the interlocal agreement is listed on the city council’s agenda for its Feb. 28 regular meeting.  

County officials have been pushing to construct a new jail since a 2021 report detailed how the current jail, built in 1986, exceeded its structural life and was failing to uphold inmates’ constitutional rights. The Monroe County Council unanimously voted to appropriate money to fund a new jail transition director, which would help the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office transition their operations from the current jail, located on College Avenue, to the new location which has not been selected yet. 

For more information on Munson and her campaign, visit her campaign website or Facebook page.  

David Henry  

Henry, the chair of the Monroe County Democratic Party since January 2021, has lived in Bloomington for more than 20 years. He originally moved to Bloomington to attend IU, where he received his master's in public affairs in 2005, and said he found his forever home.  

After graduation, he worked for the Monroe County Health Department as its public health emergency and bioterrorism coordinator from 2006-07, according to his LinkedIn profile. He later worked as a senior policy analyst for the National Governors Association from 2007-13, then as an analyst for the National Association of County Health Officials for eight months in 2013.  

He also worked as a specialist for Arc Aspicio, a consulting company focusing on homeland security. He is currently an analyst for the consulting firm Acquisition, Research and Logistics, Inc. and an instructor in the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs.  

He said he decided to run for county council because he thinks the county government can get more projects and initiatives done. He specifically mentioned the Monroe County Convention Center expansion and new jail as two projects he hopes to contribute to.  

“I’m hopeful I can help contribute to ways to really just get the shovels in the ground and get some of these projects moving forward,” Henry said.  

Henry said he is concerned about the future of the housing market and the loss of economic job diversity in the community two issues he would plan to tackle if elected. According to a 2020 Regional Opportunities Initiative housing study, by 2030 Bloomington needs 2,592 more residential units than it had in 2019 to accommodate the city’s population growth. 

“I’m very eager to help use county council resources to make the good investments in our infrastructure to help encourage the economic development we really need for the next twenty-odd years in our community,” Henry said.  

Henry also said he would be a voice for Monroe County government employees if elected to the council. Having worked for the health department, he said he knows what it's like to live and work on the wages provided to county employees.  

“I know what the front lines in our community are facing in trying to make rent and save up for that downpayment,” Henry said. “I hope to be very much a voice for those in our county government that do such good work on our behalf every day.”  

For more information on Henry and his campaign, visit his campaign website or his Facebook, Instagram and X accounts. 

Matt Caldie 

Caldie is a native of Bartholomew County, Indiana, but moved to Monroe County in 2006 to attend IU, where he studied philosophy and political science. Like Munson and Henry, he said he found he didn’t want to live anywhere else after moving to the area.  

He has served on the city’s environmental commission since 2017, where he has helped amend the city’s climate action plan, issue advisory reports and update the Bloomington Unified Development Ordinance, the primary source of land use regulations for the city. Caldie said he decided to join the commission after the 2016 election.  

“It kind of dawned on me around the same time that I’m guessing it did for so many others, around the time Trump got elected, that it’s just time to get off the sidelines,” Caldie said.  

Caldie has aided two political campaigns in Monroe County. He announced his intent to run for the District 5 seat on the Bloomington City Council in February 2023, but dropped out to serve on Shruti Rana’s campaign committee. He also helped campaign for Emily Salzmann, who was elected as a Monroe County circuit court judge in November 2022.  

Caldie said serving on the county council would allow him to collaborate with the commissioners to address issues he and other residents care about, such as affordable housing, the justice center and environmental issues. 

“I became more aware of the county council in the last year: started paying attention to what they were doing, seeing some of the ways it was similar to city, seeing some of the ways it was different,” Caldie said. “I really felt like it was a job I could enjoy doing, that I could really apply myself to, get good at and really try to help a lot of people.”  

Currently, Caldie works as a customer service representative for IU Parking Operations. Prior to serving in this role, Caldie said he spent a decade working physically demanding jobs in warehouses, factories and facilities. He said this experience allows him to connect with residents “who the economy isn’t working for.”  

“We need to make decisions that help everyone, not just the loudest voices or the people with the most influence,” Caldie said. “I think working class people should have a seat at the table and that representation is important.”  

For more information on Caldie and his campaign, visit his campaign website or Facebook page.  

Trent Deckard  

Deckard, a native of Monroe County, said his family has lived in Monroe County for nine generations. A graduate of Edgewood High School in Ellettsville, Deckard said he has lived in Monroe County for almost his entire life. 

According to his campaign website, Deckard was the Monroe County Democratic Party chair from 2013-15 and Chief of Staff for the Indiana House Democratic Caucus from 2015-17. According to his LinkedIn profile, Deckard was also the co-director of the Indiana Election Division from 2011-15. He was an adjunct professor for IUPUI’s Communication Department from 2013-15 and has worked at the Kelley School of Business as a business communication faculty member since 2018.  

He has served on the county council since 2019, when he was selected to replace departing council member Lee Jones, who currently serves on the Monroe County Board of Commissioners. He was elected to the seat in 2020 and currently serves as the council’s president.  

Since joining the council, Deckard said he advocated for using rainy day funds to support the county health department during the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, in 2020, the county council and commissioners approved an interlocal agreement with the local townships to provide more than $200,000 in economic relief. 

“I have consistently been a positive voice towards better, enhanced greater collaboration between all local government entities,” Deckard said. “I believe local officials can work together, they can get good things done when they do that and be proud of the results when they get them.”  

Deckard said two of the biggest challenges he hopes to address if re-elected are affordability and homelessness.  

“It is hard to buy a home; for some community members, it’s hard to get groceries of food,” Deckard said. “We have got to make sure we’re doing as much as possible giving folks the access they need to be able to live, thrive and survive here. Because if we don’t, we will become a community that prices people out so much that they can’t live here and then we will lose people.”  

He said , if re-elected, he would focus on being a positive voice and problem solver on the council.  

“I think there’s still work for me to do to help bring people to the table to try to get the best ideas possible and get things done,” Deckard said.  

For more information on Deckard and his campaign, visit his campaign website or Facebook page.  

CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to reflect Munson was one of a few women when she first joined the Glenn Black Laboratory of Archaeology.

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