200 years strong. And we're just starting.
In 2018, Bloomington celebrated its bicentennial. With 200 years behind us, Mayor Hamilton is leading Bloomington into the future.
Fighting for the future
In his first term, Mayor Hamilton has made building a future for Bloomington a top priority. From $200,000 first-time investments in Pre-K, to standing against "lunch shaming,” to introducing Youth Participatory Budgeting, Mayor Hamilton has fought for Bloomington's kids and youth.
An Economy that works for everyone
Under Mayor Hamilton, Bloomington became the first Community Development Financial Institution Friendly City to bring in new investment for minority-owned businesses, community facilities, and affordable housing. The Mill opened to entrepreneurial companies and innovators and companies like Cook, Bloom, Catalent, and Secretly Canadian continue to grow.
Upgrading City Government
Mayor Hamilton has led major investments in people and equipment across government: tripling investment in employee training, replacing worn-out fire and sanitation vehicles, protecting water quality, implementing deep transparency to city operations, and the police department earning its first-ever national accreditation. Bloomington is a city government that works.
Read John’s State Of The City Addresses
South Bend Mayor
"Even in a conservative state like Indiana, progressive mayors have been able to deliver for our residents, expanding opportunity and enhancing quality of life. Mayors across the state have seen John Hamilton's leadership in Bloomington set a positive example of bringing together inclusive government, progressive values, and real results."
Gary Mayor and President of the National League of Cities Karen Freeman-Wilson
“Knowing John for more than 20 years, I’ve seen first hand his commitment to affordable housing, strong public education, and economic justice and opportunity. I know that with John’s leadership Bloomington—a progressive city like Gary—is bringing people together to improve quality of life for all its residents. I look forward to continuing to work together on all those goals we share.”
Former State Representative Christina Hale
“Mayor John Hamilton leads with conscience and intellect. Working together I’ve found him to be a doer who listens, thinks through solutions and takes timely, appropriate action. When I was a freshman legislator, John had my back in the General Assembly and I appreciate him for that to this day.”
Former Congressman Baron Hill
“John has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of Hoosiers across the state, fighting for working folks and helping those in need. I’ve known him for more than 20 years. With his experience and lifelong Democratic values, John is an excellent Mayor.”
Former Congresswoman Jill Long-Thompson
“John Hamilton is a mayor who is always looking to the future while effectively addressing the challenges of today. He is a progressive leader who values the ideas and contributions of everyone, and he will ensure resources are used to continue building upon Bloomington's many successes”
Former Congressional Candidate Liz Watson
“Mayor Hamilton and First Lady Dawn Johnsen have been unwavering in their commitment to equity and fairness for all of Bloomington's residents, not just the wealthy and well-connected. Bloomington is fortunate to have such a capable and experienced mayor who puts our progressive values into practice on a daily basis.”
Guy & Connie Loftman
Jane & Patrick Martin
Robert Meitus & Carrie Newcomer
Jen Pearl & Larry Allen
Mary Alice & Jim Rickert
Lee & Eric Sandweiss
Fred & Jennifer Schultz
Rob Stone & Karen Green Stone
Cody Lee Vaughn
Tom Zeller & Mary Kay Rothert
Jennifer & Malcolm Abrams
Eva Rohlfing Allen
Tomilea & Jim Allison
Richard Bauman & Beverly Stoeltje
Kelly & Scott Boatman
Mary Catherine Carmichael
Beth & Fred Cate
Doug & Susan Davis
Gladys & Gene DeVane
Mike & Rita Drescher
Joe & Gloria Emerson
Cathy & Luis Fuentes-Rohwer
Don Griffin Jr.
Jeffrey C. Isaac
mayor hamilton’s Platform
A Proven Leader,
Fighting for Bloomington’s Future:
Mayor Hamilton is leading Bloomington’s city government to new levels of excellence. Together with a diverse cabinet of outstanding department heads, he is fighting for Bloomington’s future of good jobs, affordable housing, and a high quality of life for all.
Bloomington is a fantastic city in which to live. Much of what is truly special about Bloomington is what we have developed here over the past 200 years: good jobs, great neighborhoods, dozens of beautiful parks and trails, a vibrant and historic downtown, a thriving arts community, a world-class university, a safe community, our Farmers Markets, unique local businesses, and hundreds of dedicated nonprofits, among many wonderful features. The future of Bloomington depends on our ability to build on and further harness this natural energy and creativity to make our city even better, and for all people. To assure this bright future is open to everyone, Mayor Hamilton has worked proactively and creatively to address the challenges of job creation, affordable housing, and quality of life.
Much of our work will build on the progress we’ve made since 2016 in these important areas.But more remains to be done to sustain our progress, to help all of our people fulfill their potential, and to assure the next generations of Bloomingtonians find even more opportunity to thrive.
Mayor Hamilton is dedicated to making housing affordable for residents of all ages, abilities, and incomes. By collaborating with stakeholders, we’ve developed and preserved hundreds of units of new, long-term affordable housing. This unprecedented community effort--public, private, and nonprofit sectors working together--will help us reach our goal of every local family having a safe place to call home.
With John’s leadership, over 600 bedrooms of affordable housing have been preserved or built in Bloomington, including B-Line Heights, Bloomington Cooperative Living, Urban Station, Park South, Crescent Village, and more.
Promoting Housing-First to Fight Homelessness: As President of the Shalom Community Center Board, John helped attract $1 million in new federal funds to create Crawford Homes, an apartment complex that houses some of Bloomington’s most disadvantaged. As mayor, John continued his collaboration with Shalom to establish Crawford II and provide housing to persons experiencing chronic homelessness. John’s focus on a housing-first approach to address homelessness aligns with Shalom Center and Life Designs.
Expanding Affordable Housing for Seniors: In 2018, Evergreen Village opened in Bloomington: the first Medicaid-accepting assisted living facility in town. This facility offers high-quality housing and care senior citizens, regardless of their income level.
By including new housing strategies in the city’s Comprehensive Master Plan and zoning, we’ll assure long-term progress toward housing our community’s most vulnerable populations.
Creating Jobs and Strengthening the Economy
Over past decades, like many midwestern cities, Bloomington lost a lot of traditional manufacturing jobs. Big companies like G.E., RCA/Thomson, Westinghouse, and Otis Elevator, which used to employ thousands of local workers at good pay, closed up or left. But many other local employers large and small have expanded. The creation of sustainable jobs, the shift to the new economy, and support for homegrown businesses must be priorities for Bloomington.
Developing the Downtown Trades Park: “The Mill” has opened in the Trades Park, providing 19,000 square feet of coworking space and serving as a business incubator. This space both provides resources for local start-ups and incentivizes larger businesses to expand to Bloomington.
Collaborating to Establish CDFI Friendly Bloomington: This innovative approach to attract Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) from our region and beyond aims to catalyze small business growth, expand affordable housing, and support community facilities in Bloomington and our area. Financing for the CDFI totals $14 million, with $4 million in local financing leveraging $10 million in outside financing. Bloomington is the first CDFI Friendly City in the country.
The city of Bloomington recently led by example on fair wages, establishing minimum wage of $15/hour for city employees.
Large employers are investing in Bloomington’s future: The new Regional Academic Health Center, our community’s largest-ever single project, is a $400 million investment partnership between IU and IU Health, retaining 3,000 jobs.
Cook Group is investing $100 million into the shuttered GE plant and creating 500 new jobs. Catalent invested $1 billion in Bloomington’s economy, retaining 750 jobs, and soon announced a $125 million expansion to add 200 more jobs.
Smaller and mid-sized companies are growing in Bloomington as well, including Bloom, Synopsys, Hanapin Marketing, Envisage, Cornerstone, Secretly Group, PTS Electronics, and many more.
Quality of Life
Supporting the Arts: Mayor Hamilton and Bloomington recently won the 2019 National Award for Local Arts Leadership for cities under 100,000 people. John and his team have doubled arts grants, sponsored new murals all over town, and support new festivals and events like downtown fireworks, the Bicentennial Street Fair, and the Black y Brown Arts Festival
Ensuring Accessibility for All: John’s administration has overseen the installation of over 400 ADA-compliant accessibility ramps in Bloomington.
Support for Public Education: A former school board member, John has been an avid supporter of public education, actively promoting two successful funding referendums and visiting many classrooms to connect kids and government. In 2018 The City of Bloomington for the first time ever committed $100,000 of general fund revenue to support pre-K childhood education for families and providers needing support (based on a recommendation from the Wage Growth Task Force). The allocations included the Compass Early Learning Center and the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County.
Working together, the Parks and Recreation Department and Centerstone have established a groundbreaking summer jobs program helping hard-to-employ persons gain experience and find new jobs, as they take on public works projects.
Public safety undergirds all quality of life, and the police and fire departments have risen to new levels of excellence: BPD earned its first ever national accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) and BFD has reduced medical emergency response times by 35%, improved its national safety rating, and tripled its professional training hours.
Expanding Green Infrastructure: During John’s tenure, Bloomington has broken ground on the new Switchyard Park, the most ambitious public park project in our history, which will include 62 acres of a major amphitheater, a splash pad, a dog park, a skate park, public gardens, daylighted streams, ball fields, an indoor/outdoor pavillion, new trails, and more. Resident input informed what to include in the park, so it’s truly a place for everyone. In 2018, Bloomington parks received the Best in the Nation Award, and we have been a Tree City USA for 34 years running.
Enacting Environmental Sustainability: Using his experience leading the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Bloomington Sustainability Commission, Mayor Hamilton has worked to ensure that Bloomington is a more sustainable city by quintupling Bloomington’s solar energy capacity, installing solar panels at 30 city buildings, measuring and disclosing energy use of major buildings, and supporting greater innovation and use of alternative energy sources. John has helped expand Bloomington’s bike trails, improve our parks, and protect our green space and biodiversity. Bloomington has also collaborated with The Solar Indiana Renewable Energy Network (SIREN) to provide incentives and resources to residents who wish to add solar panels to their homes.
Promoting Democratic Engagement and Government Transparency
As mayor, John has empowered community members to have a detailed understanding of city activities and a stronger voice in the budget and other processes of their government. Tracking data and making that information publicly available can transform city work, through giving the public detailed performance measurements, holding the city accountable for its improvements and shortfalls, and empowering wider public input into a range of city actions. Mayor Hamilton has demonstrated a commitment to transparency that gives the public access to the city, online and in person.
Opening the Doors to City Hall: John holds weekly open office appointments to meet with any city resident in his office at City Hall. He has also established the “Mayor at the Market” program, where John and department heads are regularly available to meet people and answer questions.
Making Budgeting More Transparent with Activity-Based Budgeting: Bloomington has recently switched to activity-based budgeting, which means we outline and organize the entire budget around key activities rather than budget activities. For example, you'll hear what the city proposes to invest in fire prevention, or housing inspection, or arts promotion, or police patrols, as well as the affiliated total investment costs. And you’ll see the outcomes expected from each investment. This activity-based budgeting is central to helping all of us identify the real investments and choices we make in the budget and is far more transparent because it aligns funding with activities and outcomes.
Establishing a City-Wide Survey: City government works for our residents, so finding out what our opinions are is important to align services and meet unmet needs. In 2017, John issued the first ever city-wide scientific survey better to understand what residents like, dislike, or want from their city government. The first survey established a baseline of views and opinions. The survey will be repeated every two years to identify trends and highlight opportunities and needs.
John was born in Bloomington and attended two years of grade school here. After graduating from Harvard, he returned to Bloomington to attend Indiana University Maurer School of Law. He went on to have a distinguished career of public service, focused on increasing economic justice and opportunity, civil rights, and environmental stewardship.
John has worked extensively as a public servant in Democratic government, leading two state agencies, advising a governor and lieutenant governor, and serving as an elected official. As the Secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, he oversaw the implementation of Medicaid and welfare programs, services for the elderly, disabled, mentally ill, and children at risk, and statewide community development and housing programs – all executed by a staff of 10,000 Hoosiers with an annual budget of $6 billion. Earlier he served as Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the agency tasked with the statewide protection of Indiana’s air, water and land. John served as an elected member of the Board of Trustees for the Monroe County Community School Corporation. Throughout his time in Bloomington, John has served on many state and local commissions and boards, including chairing the Bloomington Commission on Sustainability and the Shalom Community Center board, as well as national boards such as the National Community Land Trust Network.
John moved to Washington DC for five years in the 1990s, where he put his progressive values into direct action by founding a family of organizations to increase economic equality and reduce the legacies of discrimination in our nation’s capital. Over the past 25 years, City First Bank and its affiliates have provided more than $1 billion of assistance, supporting thousands of jobs, thousands of affordable housing units, and dozens of vital community facilities like health clinics, arts centers, and food pantries, all focused on strengthening low-wealth communities. John served as founder and a director of the bank, and President of City First Enterprises, an affiliated nonprofit loan fund and public advocacy organization, and City First Homes, a city-wide community land trust.
John and his wife Dawn Johnsen met in Chicago after law school. A graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, Dawn later worked in New York City and Washington DC for 11 years until they together moved to Bloomington in 1998 to make their home and raise their family. While John did his state government and community development work, Dawn joined the faculty at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, where she teaches constitutional law, executive power, and women’s rights, and continues her national advocacy on progressive issues. Prior to her teaching career, Dawn worked at the ACLU, helped lead NARAL Pro Choice America, and served in the Clinton Administration with Janet Reno at the US Department of Justice, where Dawn led the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) in the late 1990s. Dawn also served on Presidential Transition teams for Presidents Clinton and Obama. President Obama nominated her to serve again as head of OLC in 2009, but the Senate failed to provide her a confirmation vote. Dawn and John have two sons who graduated from the Bloomington public school system. Matthew recently graduated from Yale, and Eric is a sophomore at Williams College.
John has received Sagamores of the Wabash from two governors of Indiana. His work has been nationally recognized, receiving a National Innovations Award from the Council of State Governments, a Silver Hammer Award from the National Performance Review, support from the Social Innovation Fund of the White House, and a Distinguished Service Award from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law.
John has also taught as Adjunct Faculty at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, teaching high-performance government and administrative law. John enjoys music -- singing and playing piano -- reading, hiking, tennis and walking with Dawn anywhere. He has been serving as Bloomington mayor since January 1, 2016.