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!