NOTE: This "It's Your Business" column by Chamber CEO Eric Spoonmore was published in the March 11, 2022 Bloomington Herald-Times.
The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce is excited to cover the candidates and issues leading up to Primary Election Day on May 3. Be sure to mark your calendars — early voting in Monroe County begins April 5, and voters will have several local, state and congressional candidates to nominate.
Primary winners from each party will then run for the general election on Nov. 8, along with nonpartisan school board candidates.
The chamber encourages all eligible voters to exercise their right to vote in the 2022 primary election. Voting during the primaries is a crucial element of our democracy and is an expression of what is most important to our voters. From policies to programs, and everything in between, primary elections are an opportunity to nominate leaders who will fight for what you feel is paramount to the success of the greater Bloomington community.
As with any election, advocating for our members is the chamber’s top priority. Our belief in Better Business, Better Community recognizes that a thriving and prospering business sector will improve our quality of life. Since becoming president and CEO of the chamber last December, I have had the pleasure of meeting with many of our local business leaders, elected officials and other community partners to understand how the chamber and our elected leaders can work together to foster further economic development and quality of life improvements.
Outlined below are a few of the key opportunities that we would like to see local candidates address in their 2022 campaigns:
More housing: A top priority of the chamber is the development of new housing in Monroe County. A lack of housing stock has presented difficult challenges to our small businesses that want to grow. A shortage of housing also creates challenges for larger employers who need to attract and retain a wide range of talent in our community. Median home prices in our area have risen by 22% to $279,000 in less than three years. By comparison, average wages locally and across Indiana have not kept pace. We encourage county commissioner candidates to prioritize housing as an issue and outline tangible solutions to the housing shortage we face here in Monroe County.
Criminal justice reform: Among the biggest issue facing our criminal justice system is the existing jail facility that experts have recently determined to be inadequate for the needs of our community. Candidates for the sheriff’s office, county prosecutor, circuit court judges, county commissioner and county council will need a vision for collaborating as office holders on an inclusive approach that can equitably solve our local public safety challenges.
Convention center expansion: The chamber is eager for county candidates to address the convention center expansion plans. The project has seen no progress despite having collected over $12 million in food and beverage tax revenue for the purpose of expanding the Monroe Convention Center. Funding from the Monroe County food and beverage tax is in place to support the project and can sustain the cost of construction. We encourage county commissioner and county council candidates to identify a viable path forward to achieve this long-awaited community-wide goal.
Finally, the representatives we elect to the Indiana General Assembly should want to serve the best interest of our community. Taking away local control from city and county elected officials can lead to the slow deterioration of our quality of life in Bloomington-Monroe County. Too often, state legislators attempts to dictate our local K-12 education, taxing ability and zoning ordinances.
Indiana House District 62 is an open seat with candidates on both sides looking to represent a large portion of Monroe County in the Statehouse. The upcoming primary election is the perfect opportunity to nominate a candidate who champions this community and the values we share here.
For more information about the 2022 primary election, please visit the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce website at www.chamberbloomington.org/advocacy.html.
Eric Spoonmore is president and CEO of the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce
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