June 2019 Newsletter


First, THANK YOU for your support and encouragement. Last month’s primary election went well, as we attracted 84% of the vote, and are positioned strongly for this fall’s general election. Dawn and I want to thank our campaign team, led by Kaisa Goodman with a wonderful cast of young progressive Democrats, and powered by many of you: phone callers, door knockers, event hosts, social media activists, and donors. Thank you!!

The efforts of our first term are on the right track – Bloomingtonians want to see a more equitable economy, more affordable housing, a more sustainable community offering a higher quality of life for all, and a transparent, innovative City Hall that takes on challenges and pursues opportunities energetically and actively.

That’s just what we’ll plan to keep doing going forward. We know that cities must keep progressing for our residents, in the face of infuriating moves coming out of State Houses and the federal government. Attacking the personal liberties of women. Ignoring the perils of climate change. Denying the need for common sense gun control. Stoking fears instead of building bridges. 

And speaking of cities, I’m excited to be joining Indiana’s most famous mayor these days, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, for an event and announcement in South Bend on Tuesday, June 4th. Some of you may know that Bloomington became the first “CDFI Friendly City” in America last year, as we pioneered a new way to attract mission-oriented investments for local needs, like affordable housing, small business growth, and community facilities like day cares or health clinics.

Well, South Bend is signing up as well to become another CDFI Friendly City, and I have a hunch that Mayor Pete may get some more national coverage about this. I appreciate that my friend Pete has invited me up to join their announcement in a discussion about how to support a more inclusive economy. He’s an exciting voice, and high-integrity person, and an exceptionally talented leader making Indiana look a whole lot better on the national stage than some of our other notables.

Onward we go! Thanks again for all your support – past, present and future. My colleagues and I in city government sincerely appreciate the chance to keep improving the quality of life available for more people in Bloomington. It’s because of your help that we can do so.

Democratically yours,


P.S: As you’re making your summer plans, don’t forget to mark down the Sunday after Labor Day for our 5th Annual Hamilton Family Picnic – Sunday afternoon, Sept. 8th. We’ll kick off the fall municipal election season in style!



Election Day is upon us!! Tuesday, May 7th, I hope you will vote and persuade all your registered neighbors, friends and co-workers to vote!!  (Unless folks have already voted early – THANKS!!)

Voting has been called an act of HOPE. It’s a duty of citizenship yes. An emblem of freedom and liberty yes. A fundamental right. And also a personal act of hope, of belief in positive action and change and progress. All across Indiana communities are voting in primaries to select their candidates for the next term, for communities to chart their future.

I’m very proud of our work together since January 2016. And I’m excited about making more progress together in the coming years. Thank you for your support: past, present, and future.

Senator Michael Bennett of Colorado made a speech a few months ago talking among other things about our nation’s founders. He reminded us that the original founders, yes, did great things. But they certainly missed a lot of things too. And we’ve had other founders in our country – thank goodness – since then. Founders of our country who fought against the sin of slavery. Founders of our country who finally got women the vote. Founders who passed Civil Rights laws of the 1960s and basic environmental rights in the 1970s. Founders who won the right to marry. 

We need more founders still: to remedy pervasive economic injustice, and racial legacies, and pending climate catastrophes, and to establish health care as a right. America always needs new founders, to reach closer to that more perfect Union. And remember that what we do every day in our community helps activate and enable more of these patriots, these desperately needed new founders.

Democratically yours,

PS: Remember after you vote – come join all us local Democrats for an election night gathering at The Mill, 642 N. Madison Street, starting at 6pm on May 7th! We’ll share results and entertainment and food and drink.



I am sorry it has been a little longer than usual between messages. A lot has happened in our local elections. And while the primary is underway and Election Day now is only a week away, it frankly seemed appropriate to let some things settle a bit.

Our community has been through some painful political times since I last wrote. My opponent in the primary recently heeded calls to drop her candidacy and resign her position as a county commissioner after newspaper articles disclosed misconduct involving a person providing services to the county as a contractor.

In addition to four uncontested primary races – mayor, clerk, and two council races – we have seven contested council seats. Please get out there and vote and support your candidates now and through the fall elections. And thank you for your continued support for our work for Bloomington’s future.

We’ve also lost two giants of Indiana politics: former U.S. Senators Birch Bayh and Richard Lugar. I knew both of them personally, and while they were very different individuals and fought for quite different political causes, they both embodied Hoosier values and integrity and great patriotism. They were both statesmen. Both military veterans. They were from another era when comity and mutual respect still held sway in Washington DC. Both climbed up Indiana politics – Bayh becoming Indiana’s youngest Speaker of the House before winning a U.S. Senate seat in 1962; Lugar as Indianapolis’s “Unigov” mayor and then Senator starting in 1976. (Both unsuccessfully sought the Presidency as well.)

I have a particular affinity for Bayh given our political alignment (and having worked with his son Evan). Let’s remember that progressive Hoosier Senator Birch Bayh: authored two amendments to the U.S. Constitution (presidential succession and 18-year-old voting) and led unsuccessful fights for two more (the ERA and eliminating the Electoral College – wouldn’t they have improved the country!). It’s said that Birch wrote more of the Constitution than anyone since James Madison! He led the effort to defeat two of President Nixon’s Supreme Court nominees (Haynsworth and Carswell), which led to Harry Blackmun’s confirmation (thanks for Roe v Wade!). He was a strong advocate for women’s rights, bringing us Title IX and the dramatic changes to women’s athletics that followed. And so much more.

Birch also was a great retail politician: energetic, back-slapping, friend-to-everyone, optimistic and positive about Indiana and America. Lugar deserves great credit for helping dismantle nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons around the world.

We will miss both Birch Bayh and Richard Lugar. They will both be long remembered as thoughtful, serious legislators who served our country honorably and well. And showed how to be a politician in the finest sense of the word.

May we find ways to return to politics imbued with dignity, integrity, and seriousness of purpose to solve problems and improve people’s lives.

Democratically yours,

P.S.: Remember to vote – early or on Tuesday, May 7th! And come join us for an election night gathering at The Mill, 642 N. Madison Street, starting at 6pm on May 7th  with refreshments and live music!

February 2019 Newsletter


A couple weeks ago I was in Washington DC to receive a Leadership in the Arts award for our community (see link HERE). It was wonderful for the US Conference of Mayors and Americans for the Arts to affirm that Bloomington is a national leader in supporting the arts. We embrace that. (And kudos to our city arts leader Sean Starowitz.)

At the time, DC was under the federal government shutdown. As several mayors noted, no mayor could possibly shut down city government over a policy argument for one day, much less 39 days. We have to keep our governments operating 24/7, no matter what. We’d be run out of town on a rail if we shut down any part of government over a political dispute. And rightly so!

I noted a similar big difference between federal and local government back during the debate over the outrageous federal tax cut of 2017: No mayor or city council in America would pass a bill like that, with its debt-financed, enormous giveaway to the top 1%. (see op-ed HERE)

Being a mayor means you’re working every day to deliver basic services, and to help every resident pursue their dreams. We have open discussions about how best to do that, sometimes heated ones. But serving as mayor is a privilege and a public trust to help lead that process. I love improving the basics and also fighting for future opportunities.

As our re-election campaign for mayor kicks off in earnest, I’m reminded of what we walked into on January 1st, 2016. Bloomington was and remains a wonderful community, thanks to two centuries of good decisions and stewardship. But even more than we anticipated, there was a lot of catch-up and fix-up needed in the basics of city government. For example:

  • The water coming from our Lake Monroe plant was close to violating national safe Drinking Water standards, and getting worse

  • Fire engines and snow plows were breaking down on the way to jobs, and you literally could put your hand through their sides

  • Sanitation workers were suffering debilitating injuries as they hand-lifted two tons of trash every day

  • Aging water mains were breaking around the city at an alarming rate, as they had not been replaced on schedule

  • I-69 work was stalled due to terribly misguided privatization, causing driving hazards and delays

  • Performance reviews for most city employees hadn’t been held in years

  • Parking meters were failing to perform at acceptable (and contracted) levels

  • The recent major theft from city coffers haunted fiscal management issues

  • The city’s comprehensive plan and zoning updates were both years overdue

  • Four major projects along the B-Line – the Trades District, the Convention Center, the IU Health hospital move, and Switchyard Park – all needed leadership to get them moving forward

Everything on this list has been addressed in our first three years. We’re fixing problems. Maintaining our infrastructure. Picking up trash and recycling. Patrolling and plowing the streets. Making our community more sustainable. Updating policies and plans.

And beyond that, we’re tackling big challenges and pursuing opportunities directly. Affordable housing is front and center, with 600 more affordable bedrooms in the books, and hundreds more on the way. Job growth is impressive, with employers large and small preserving and adding thousands of jobs with new investments. The “String of Pearls” sees all four major projects moving forward actively. And we’ve put solar panels at 27 city facilities and supported solar in scores of private homes, invested in miles of new trails and paths, doubled our arts grants, supported pre-K for the first time, focused on local food, and much more.

I love this city and all the people in it. I love rolling up our sleeves together to do the basics right,and to pursue the future’s promises. Bright days are ahead. Thanks for all you do for our community. 

Democratically yours,

P.S.: Please join in the campaign to keep our momentum going another four years. Check out the campaign website HERE and get involved!

January 2019 Newsletter


Happy 2019!!

Last month, as we announced my plans to seek a second mayoral term, Dawn and I remembered the voices that were so important four years ago, heard at more than 60 house parties and in hundreds of individual conversations about our community and our future:

  • “Where are my kids going to work in Bloomington?” – With the decades-long decline of major manufacturing jobs and a growing reliance on service sector jobs, how will Bloomington increase good jobs?

  • “What can we do about housing that just gets more and more expensive?” – shutting out new families and those without substantial means, and threatening our way of life.

  • “How do we protect our fundamental public safety?” – as our city saw increased violent crime over the preceding 10 years, and some sensed a decline of civility.

  • “What are we doing about climate change and protecting the natural world?” – as current policies seemed inadequate to the global and local threats.

  • “How do we protect what we love about Bloomington, both physically and in quality of life? – in the face of development pressures, unattractive buildings, population growth, and the like.

  • “And how about public education?” – to assure this highly educated community has public schools that allow all our kids to thrive and reach their potential.

We heard more questions from city employees, like:

  • “How can I do my job with equipment that is falling apart?” – such as fire engines that would stall out during an emergency call, dump trucks so rusty you could put your hand through them, and snow plows that wouldn’t run.

  • “Why can’t we just TRY some things, even if they’re hard or might not work?” – because we know many things that need to be addressed, but we shy away from difficult decisions or controversial topics.

These questions motivated our administration from day one. They’re why we keep fighting for Bloomington’s future every day. I’m seeking a second term to keep up our strong positive momentum.

You can get lots of details about all the great progress on job growth, affordable housing, more efficient and innovative government, improving public schools, and more, at the city website HERE, or my campaign website HERE.

Of course, much work remains, and none of us should be satisfied with where we are as a community. We have neighbors who are struggling mightily with poverty, or substance use disorder, or illness, or prejudice, or violence, or inadequate wages, and more. We have future potential neighbors who want to be here but don’t feel welcome or don’t see job opportunities or can’t find affordable housing.

And as we’ve been fighting for Bloomington’s future, no doubt we’ve occasionally stepped on some toes. Sometimes we’ve stubbed our own toes, as we’ve tried to tackle a lot of big, complex challenges, like affordable housing and sustainability (especially in the face of often hostile state and national governments). But as I promised on day one, we’ll keep fighting and striving to make Bloomington a city that welcomes everyone, that works for people from all walks of life, and that always aims high.

Dawn and I are so grateful to get the chance to live here, and work here, and join with all of you to keep this progressive city moving forward. In the face of a conservative state and infuriating national headwinds, we relish keeping our community on track to the better future that we want, and that the next generations depend upon. Thanks for all you do.

Democratically yours,

Ps: Thanks to the hundreds who helped ring out the Bicentennial Year at City Hall on December 31st. We’re off to the next 100 years for Bloomington! Please check out the campaign website and get involved HERE.



Dawn and I hope many of you can join us tomorrow, Tuesday, December 4th for a launch party for re-election! We will gather at the County Democratic HQ between 5:30 and 7pm, with a brief program at 6pm - mostly a thanks for all the work we’ve done thus far and excitement about what we can do together going forward.

Last month’s election brought some encouraging change – biggest Democratic pick up in Congress since Watergate, important governors and 100s of state legislative seats turned blue (inc. 4 in Indiana), and a clean sweep in county-wide offices here. It also brought some major disappointments, with our incumbent Senator Joe Donnelly and the awesome Liz Watson coming up short, as well as some nail-biters tilting the other way in Georgia, Florida, and Texas.

Locally, we should be reinvigorated to do all we can to make our progressive Bloomington thrive. To show that living our values makes our communities more welcoming, more successful, and more compassionate, allowing people from all walks of life to enjoy an outstanding quality of life.

Let’s talk climate change, where current battles over fundamental values and priorities have enormous stakes. In October the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the gold-standard UN-sponsored group, announced alarming predictions about 2040, just over 20 years away. Then late last month a congressionally mandated report laid out the devastating effects of a changing climate on the national economy, health and environment. While the White House and Congress deny reality.

What’s a place like Bloomington to do? Communities large and small, around the country and the planet, must make ourselves successful examples of sustainable living. Places like Bloomington with important advantages – away from coastlines, with abundant fresh water, temperate climate, good ‘bones’ of infrastructure and agriculture, strong progressive values – especially should be exemplars of welcoming, sustainable communities.

In fact, Bloomington and other U.S. cities are leading the charge to meet the goals of Paris, despite President Trump’s outrageous abandonment of that vital agreement. We’ve dramatically expanded solar generation. We invest in sustainable mobility. We support compact urban development and local food. We support good jobs and fairness and equity. We protect and nurture natural resources.

And last month, building on this momentum, Bloomington adopted our first detailed, ambitious sustainability plan. We will implement and continuously update the plan together to preserve a high quality of life here with:

  • a strong, sustainable economy with plentiful good jobs

  • great infrastructure for sustainable water, energy and mobility

  • housing of many types, in sustainable design and placement, for people of all incomes

  • vibrant local food and agriculture

  • a culture of inclusiveness, justice, innovation and creativity

  • abundant and protected natural and wild places, parks and trees

  • a commitment to reason and facts, and responsiveness to the world around us  

Bloomington and other cities are leading. Thanks for your part. Our future depends on it.

Democratically yours,

Ps: Hope to see you Tuesday, December 4th at 5:30pm, 4th and Madison at County Demo HQ! And consider joining for a New Year’s Eve Party, ringing out our Bicentennial Year, at City Hall, Dec. 31st.

November 2018 Newsletter


As of two days before the Mid-Term Elections, Democrats are predicted to take back the House and Republicans to hold the Senate. Lots of state races of import. We’ll see soon.

In the meantime, keep encouraging everyone to VOTE!! Keep making phone calls. Knocking doors. Sending emails. We’ve set new records with early voting in Monroe County and also with days of canvassing and calls and contributions. Our community knows that turnout wins elections, and friends help friends vote. We have loads of great local, state and federal candidates to help over the finish line these next two days.

It is daunting to keep our footing after a string of recent terrible events: pipe bombs sent to maim Democratic leaders, an anti-Semitic slaughter at a Pittsburgh synagogue, a racist attack in Louisville that seemed a copycat attempt of Charleston, and a misogynist shooter at a yoga studio. Caustic, divisive, shocking rhetoric continues to pour out of the White House. Fear-mongering – including outrageous, racist, scurrilous attack ads – stirs up prejudice, resentment, hate speech and hate crimes.

A century ago, the great poet William Butler Yeats in The Second Comingwrote:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
             The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
             Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
             Are full of passionate intensity.

No matter what happens on Election Day, we certainly are in for a long-haul effort to help the “centre” hold. I don’t mean the political center. I mean the human center, of decency, compassion, inclusion and respect that undergirds our society. Those values and behaviors are being eroded daily. For political purposes in my view – though of course these values should transcend partisan lines. 

We local communities that constitute America must hold strong. We must daily reaffirm and nourish those values in our efforts and our interactions. I am so often so proud of how frequently the people of Bloomington do just that. So many do bring “all conviction.”

It’s going to take that and more over the coming years. Continued and deepened commitment to justice and peace and mutual respect. Starting locally and emanating outward. It’s a long-haul effort, a relay race of the generations – and the current relay leg is proving especially challenging, in part due to backlashagainst our historic election of Barack Obama and near-election (were it not for the electoral college) of our first woman president.

Yes, I believe like Dr. King that the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice. But progress is neither consistent nor automatic. As so many of you do, we in Bloomington must keep our shoulders to that bending every day. No matter what happens on November 6th, we have a lot of work ahead of us to meet our challenges together. 

Democratically Yours,

Ps: So let’s all GOTV through Tuesday – and then consider joining Election Eve to watch returns come in with the Monroe County Dems at Rhino’s (331 S. Walnut Ave).

October 2018 Newsletter


What just happened? Raw power, that’s what.

Justice Kavanaugh sits now as the fifth vote for a VERY conservative bloc of Justices. He will likely extend significantly the 50-year run of a majority of Supreme Court members being appointed by Republican Presidents. (Even though 4 of those 5 current Justices were appointed by Presidents who didn’t command a plurality of popular votes on their election. Even though the Senators confirming Kavanaugh represent only 44% of the American population. See more inexcellent article by Marty Lederman here)

But that is done. Along the way, survivors of assault were re-traumatized, by the treatment of Dr. Blasey Ford, by the curtailed FBI role, by the pompous and bull-headed push from the party with the power. For one reminder of the meanness, see Sen. Kamala Harris describing Trump’s speech here (at about 3:30 of the video).

Our Senator Donnelly did the right thing, and deserves our thanks. Senator Young toed the party line and disregarded thousands of Hoosier survivors and millions of Hoosier women.

So much has been written already about the possible fallout of this appointment and this Court. Every day, I'm learning more about the threats confronting our democracy from my wife Dawn, a constitutional scholar. Attacks on liberty – of women, LGBTQ+, immigrants, people of color – are horrific and political fodder for the power brokers assembling alliances. We will be fighting for our liberties for decades.

Let me just highlight one thing: Follow the Money. Fueling the Republican rush to confirm Kavanaugh were moneyed interests seeking to solidify and accelerate the Supreme Court’s already-unprecedented rulings in favor of corporations against individuals, for the powerful against those struggling in our nation of growing inequality.

Underneath it all, enormous corporate power and money is rewriting the United States’ story, for its self-preservation and for greed. Trying to diminish the very democracy that nurtures our struggles for justice and liberty.

Consider last year’s unfunded corporate tax cut. The vast majority of benefits flowed to the richest of our country. And the big tax cuts have directly generated big cash for the Republican Party:

  • Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s company, Las Vegas Sands, reported a $700 million windfall from the tax law earlier this year, as he gave $30 million personally to the SuperPAC attacking Democrats to hold onto the House

  • Timothy Mellon, chairman and majority owner of privately held Pan Am Systems, another big tax cut beneficiary, contributed $24 million (See NYT details on the tax/contribution merry-go-round here)

It hits right at home too. Our own outstanding candidate for the 9th District, Liz Watson, faces off against Joseph Albert Hollingsworth, III – who after spending $4.5 million of his and his dad’s money to buy the seat in 2016, last year voted himself a $4.5 million personal annual tax cut (!!) as a reward. (The biggest personal benefit in the House – how’s that for a distinction in your first term?) Watch out for dark and late money pouring into our race and many around the country, to hold onto power.

This raw power seeks to make it harder to vote, harder to protest, harder to organize, harder to regulate guns or pollution or corporate abuse, harder to have fair districts and elections. Harder, in other words, to have the country that a growing majority of us want.

Follow the Money. And be very, very wary of its power. We have our work cut out for us, in Bloomington, and the United States. We shall all need each other.

So VOTE VOTE VOTE!!!  And remind everyone to do the same.

Democratically Yours,

Ps: EARLY VOTING STARTS WED. OCTOBER 10TH!  We simply must have a strong turnout and showing from 9am October 10th through 6pm on Election Day on November 6th. The stakes are so high. Get your spirits up and get activated!!