Hot Air: Democracy, Sorta

At long last, primary election day is here. Tomorrow. Voting has been going on for a month now. I’m hearing turnout is light. I wouldn’t have bet on that when this election cycle started in January. The sitting mayor, John Hamilton looked to be in for a slugfest, with popular Monroe County Commissioner Amanda Barge punching and jabbing as for back as the fall when she announced her exploratory committee.

Monroe County women had flexed their muscles and walked away with several prizes in the 2018 election. With Hamilton semi-reeling from a few of his own misfires, it looked as though Barge just might capitalize on that trend and cop the big chair this year. Then a county contractor met her in a fast food parking lot with a voice recorder running and the next thing anybody knew, Barge had become a persona non grata. What looked to be a big-turnout primary now appears to be a snoozefest.

And that’s a shame because one of the biggest contingents of challengers in recent years is giving Bloomington’s sitting city council members a run for their money this time around. One race, for instance, for the District 2 seat, boasts no fewer than four aspirants.

Heck, seven of the nine council seats can, conceivably, be horseraces. Only challenger Ron Smith, running unopposed (his rival for the outgoing Allison Chopra’s District 3 seat, Jim Blickendorf, took a powder after his own brush with scandal) and perennially unopposed candidate Steve Volan in the 6th are sleeping soundly tonight. Everybody else’ll probably be tossing and turning.

Another sound sleeper will be Andrew Guenther, the lone Republican to file in any race this year. He’ll face the victor from among incumbent Dorothy Granger, Sue Sgambelluri, and Daniel Bingham in the District 2 Dem primary in the November general election.

Yet, this being the People’s Republic of Bloomington, no fewer than four candidates for municipal office can cat nap from now until November. In addition to the aforementioned Smith and Volan, city clerk Nicole Bolden is running unopposed in both the primary and, presumably the general election. The Republicans can, conceivably, caucus in entries for those races but don’t bet on that happening. And only the most rash bettor will risk a thin dime on independent Nile Arena upsetting powerhouse Hamilton in the mayoral race.

These cakewalks are a real optical problem for this Sovietsky city. It’s a one-party town, with far too many elected  officers watching the May Day parade pass from up high outside the Krem…, I mean, Showers Building.

Loyal Pencillistas know I have little patience for the Republican Party since that gang a half century ago began gathering this holy land’s misogynists, supremacists, gun fondlers, nativists, and — well, let’s be frank — racists under its self-proclaimed big tent. Nevertheless, I detest the idea that any governmental entity, be it a charming college town like ours or even the planet’s most powerful nation, be run by a single party. I can name more than a few municipalities, states, and nations that’ve devolved thusly, and the results never benefit anyone, save for those very, very few for whom the monoliths are designed to serve.

Anyway, your homework assignment tonight — in case you haven’t been doing this already since February — is to review the challengers for city council seats and one independent running for mayor who’ve guested on Big Talk this election season. Each Thursday, I’d chat with that week’s guest about her/his life and professional resume so as to give you, the listener, an idea of who in they hell that character was. Then, the following Monday during WFHB’s Daily Local News, I’d present that person talking about the issues.

Now, several incumbents have raised cain with me about not including them in the series. To those complainants I replied that there weren’t enough weeks remaining to include everybody when I came up with this idea and, besides, the incumbents have a public record of voting and speaking and they’ve been covered well or haphazardly, depending on the outlet, in the Herald Times, on WFHB, via CATS, in the IDS, and on WTIU/WFIU. You all should know who they are and what they stand for by now. If not, that’s on you.

The challengers? Well, some of them just might be total strangers to you.

To that end, here they are, with links to both their Thursday Big Talk appearances and their Monday Big Talk Extra platforms:


  • Nile Arena Library worker, film buff, street theater artist

District 1

  • Kate Rosenbarger Lawyer, executive director TEDx Bloomington
  • Denise Valkyrie — Administrative support coordinator WFIU/WTIU/IU Radio & Televison Services

District 2

District 3

District 4

  • Miah Michaelson deputy director Indiana Arts Commission

District 5

District 6

  • None


Now you can’t say you don’t know who’s who when you squeeze into the voting booth tomorrow.


One thought on “Hot Air: Democracy, Sorta

  1. George Bull says:

    Bonus points on that homework assignment for reviewing the new UDO language and it’s implications….

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