Transportation is a key topic that our elected officials have to deal with. A huge chunk of any municipal budget is devoted to streets and infrastructure, and rightfully so; if the city wouldn’t pave the street to your house or workplace, who would?
We think it’s important for voters to understand where candidates for local office stand on transportation issues, so we partnered with the League of Women Voters of McLean County to conduct a survey of everyone running for Bloomington and Normal Council and Mayor’s offices. Bike BloNo did the same thing two years ago, with great results; we felt pretty good about the response rate, and after we assigned letter grades based on the candidates’ responses, everyone we rated ‘A’ ended up being elected.
Just to be clear – we grade candidates solely on their responses to the survey. We aren’t endorsing anyone; we’re just making it easier for busy people to browse the candidates’ perspectives on transportation issues. This year, we had a team of independent reviewers read anonymized versions of each candidate’s responses and grade based on the survey alone (not taking into account the candidate’s opinions on any other issues). You can consider the letter grades an indication of how closely the candidate’s perspective on transportation issues aligns with the best interests of people who get around outside a car.
We were thrilled to learn that the League of Women Voters of McLean County agreed with us that it’s important to educate the public about candidates’ views on transportation issues. Their goal is to promote the education of voters, and they seek every avenue for the voter to learn about candidates running for office. This survey is an opportunity to do just that. While happily co-sponsoring this survey, the League had no involvement in the assignment of grades; that was solely on Bike BloNo’s side of things.
Who didn’t respond
While eighteen of the 23 candidates for Bloomington and Normal Mayoral and Council races did choose to respond, five didn’t.
Ian Bayne and Kevin Lower, both running for Mayor of Bloomington, chose not to respond. Lower, the current Alderman for Ward 1, voted against the Complete Streets ordinance and frequently comments about how he thinks the push for street safety is a socialist agenda. From his Facebook page:
This is the socalistic agenda being pushed upon Bloomington by those who believe in ” New Urbanism ” . This is the ideology of government control of all facilities of local society.
Fact not fictional opinion.
Mr. Bayne seems to also hold a negative perspective on sustainable transportation. From the “Issues” page on his campaign website:
When the city spends too much money, your taxes go up.
It’s really that simple.
Bike paths, expensive sidewalks, renovations to government buildings no one uses. These things have been a priority with the current mayor and city council.
Susan Feldkamp, a candidate for Ward 1 Alderman, also chose not to respond. We were unable to find any written statements one way or another on transportation issues, other than a vague pledge to fix the streets.
The final two Bloomington candidates not to respond were Gary Lambert and Bob Clay, both running for Ward 3 Alderman. Neither have made written public statements on Complete Streets, to the best of our knowledge – though Lambert is a frequent speaker during the Public Comment period at City Council meetings and we did not have time to review all of the footage to see if he has spoken on this issue.
Every candidate in the Town of Normal responded to our survey.
For each candidate below, we’ve linked their survey responses (if they chose to respond). We strongly encourage you to read through the actual responses for each candidate on your ballot. The Bloomington Mayoral primary will occur on February 28, 2017, after which the field of candidates will be narrowed to two. All of the other races (and the vote on the two remaining Bloomington Mayoral candidates) will occur April 4, 2017. If you’re not sure which ward you live in, you can check this map of Bloomington wards.
An earlier version of this post indicated that Mr. Ulmer had not responded to the survey. In fact, he had; it had just ended up in our spam folder. We apologize for the error.