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Thoughts on the 2015 Bloomington city elections

By Scott Tibbs, November 11, 2015

The Democrats will have a 9-0 majority on the city council again in January, with a Democratic mayor to go along with it. Of course, I was a candidate for city council at-large, getting 3.3% of all votes cast as a write-in candidate.

First, I found it interesting that Republican at-large candidate Jennifer Mickel got 500 more votes than Republican mayoral candidate John Turnbull, who was much more visible and spent a lot more money than Mickel did. A lot of Republicans had grumbled about Turnbull, thinking he was either a Democratic plant (he was not) or that he was not conservative enough. That discontent showed in the election results as a lot of folks skipped over Turnbull but voted for Mickel. I think Turnbull made an error focusing on being the "CEO" of the city without a clear policy agenda. John Hamilton gave his voters a reason to turn out and be excited, while Turnbull did not.

While I did not get as many votes as I hoped, 3.3% is not bad for someone who was not on the ballot. People had to remember my name and remember to write in my name, and that is a difficult obstacle. Nonetheless, I accomplished my two goals for the election: I gave the voters a choice in the election that they would not have had otherwise and I presented an alternative vision for the future of city government.

I presented a large number of policy proposals and influenced the debate over the public policy quite a bit, even as a write-in candidate. I brought up some issues that would not have been discussed at all if I was not running, including civil asset forfeiture, police militarization and government meeting times. I showed I could do this despite a limited time commitment and spending less than $20 on my campaign.

Who knows? Maybe I will run as a Republican in 2019. But that is three years away, and that is a very long time.