Jody Madeira 2024

Four women are running for office in 2024, and have applied for endorsement by the DWC.  All were interviewed in March by the DWC Endorsement Committee whose recommendations will be presented at the DWC lunch on Friday, April 5.  They responded to same questions posed to all of them so that our members have information prior to voting on whether or not to endorse them.  There was no word limit.  Here are the responses from Jody Madeira.

Jody Madeira, running for election as County Commissioner District 3

1. Why are you running for this office?
I am running for County Commissioner for District 3 because I am confident that I can do a better job to collaboratively solve several issues confronting our community and have a solid vision of how we can grow and move forward over the next year, the next five years, and the next ten years. I’m eager to solve the county’s most pressing issues, including meeting an urgent need for dense affordable housing (including income-restricted housing and workforce housing), building a new justice campus in a publicly accessible location, continuing to ensure community health resources, and others. I’m also eager to improve communication dynamics between the city and county and bring more transparency and accessibility to county government. I believe that local government service is where I can best utilize my training, experience, and energy, helping to improve the quality of life for my fellow county residents.

2. Describe the duties of the office for which you are running.
In Indiana, each county is governed by a board of three commissioners from separate districts. The commissioners are the county’s executive and administrative leaders. Their duties include enacting ordinances, appointing county and township officials, overseeing zoning and planning matters, receiving bids for projects and authorizing contracts, maintenance and supervision of county property (including the courthouse, jail, etc.), certain election duties, supervising road and bridge construction and maintenance, and financial decision making.

3. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I have lived in Monroe County since 2007, when I moved here with my family to accept a position as a law school professor at IU, where I teach courses on torts, law and medicine, bioethics, family law, and firearms law and serve as Director of the Center for Law, Society & Culture. I’m a proud parent of several school-aged children. As a nationally-recognized expert on law and communication theory, my research centers around law and medicine (including reproductive rights and substance use disorders), firearms law, tort liability, and criminal justice issues. My research most often involves talking with people to see how law affects their lives on issues like criminal justice, policing, substance use, and reproductive rights. I’m proud to be a public university professor and have always been a public servant. Academic research should make a difference in others’ lives. I’m active in the media because I believe that it’s important for the public to know how complex legal developments could affect their environments and lives. I’ve always tried to bring innovative and practical solutions to community problems; for example, I led a team that created a smart phone app using a participant-led process with input from an advisory board of experts. This app allowed college students to track substance use and mental health, provided educational videos on substance use and evidence-based treatment, and allowed university counselors to remotely monitor students’ status (with their permission).

4. Please share information about your community involvement.
I’m deeply involved in several communities. I’m very active on several law school and university committees. Here in Bloomington, I’ve been on the board of the Community Justice and Mediation Center for over a decade; serve on the City-County Firearm Prevention Task Force, and have helped with election protection. I’ve also held several leadership positions in local swim clubs and work hundreds of hours each year as a meet referee for USA Swimming and official for high school and middle school swim competitions. On a national level, I was elected to and serve on the board of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, appointed to the American Academy of Pediatrics, and elected to the American Law Institute. I also serve as Secretary of the American Association of Law Schools’ Firearms Law Section.

I’m also a dedicated advocate for reproductive rights and gun violence prevention. I have the strange distinction of being the leading international expert on fertility fraud, which occurs when health care providers inform patients undergoing artificial insemination that they will receive a sperm sample from a donor or medical student, but then substitute their own sample. Years later, their adult children take a direct-to-consumer genetic test and find out that they have as many as 100 siblings. Since 2019, I have passed or helped to pass fertility fraud laws in 11 states and currently have a federal bill pending (HR 451). I was the statewide legislative advocacy director for Moms Demand Action/Everytown from 2015 to 2017 and frequently testify in state and national governments on gun violence prevention research and other firearms law issues.

5. Tell us about any previous elected offices you’ve held or other political experience you’ve had.
I have no prior political experience as an elected official, but have served as a lobbyist and legal expert on the state and national levels. I have also been elected to national service positions in nonprofits (see question four).

6. What do you believe is most important to serving successfully in the office you are seeking?
The most important qualities to successfully serve as a County Commissioner include a demonstrated ability to listen, a willingness to consider all sides of issues, emotional intelligence, great organizational and communication skills, strong critical thinking and research skills, and expertise in collaborating with others to triage and solve community issues. It’s also important that a county commissioner know how to resolve conflict and be able to successfully negotiate solutions between parties that believe they have little in common. It’s also important to be imaginative and innovative to consider solutions that might be “outside the box.” Resilience and patience are also incredibly important qualities in a candidate. Candidates should be confident but realize that humility is also a virtue and must be aware that they are never going to make everyone happy.

7. What makes you the best candidate?
I have the necessary expertise to understand complex legal issues and the creativity to collaboratively solve problems. In working to solve other issues, from fertility fraud to educating students about substance use disorders, I have consistently proven my ability to roll up my sleeves and get to work with others to solve problems, implementing solutions with community feedback and buy-in from the ground up and not the top down. I understand the issues as well as the importance of research and data-driven decision making. I also want to reframe issues from binary choices that are either/or (“either we can protect the environment or we can build housing”) to choices that are both-and (“we can protect the environment as build housing”).

8. How do you plan to win this election?
The key to winning this election is being accessible, being a good listener, and being a good communicator. I will put myself out there as much as possible to listen and learn from residents, county officials, community leaders, and leaders in the nonprofit and business sectors. I will connect with Monroe County residents by knocking on doors, making calls, and attending events. The best possible way to prepare for elected office is to speak with residents about their perspectives on county issues, needs and priorities, and potential changes.

9. Are there existing aspects of the office you are seeking that should be addressed in order to be as equitable and inclusive as possible? If so, how will you go about that?
I believe it’s important to encourage members of the public to attend and get involved in government in every way that they can; that’s one way they can effect change for the public good. It’s important that meetings be publicly accessible and that County Commissioners make themselves available to listen to constituents’ concerns so that they can be informed on what are the most pressing issues for residents, why these issues are important, and how certain solutions can harm or benefit different stakeholders.

10. What issues impacting women are most important to you right now?
Right now, most of my advocacy efforts are spent addressing three issues: severely curtailed reproductive rights, lack of access to affordable childcare, and gun violence prevention (particularly in domestic violence situations). I was a vocal public opponent of SB 1, Indiana’s abortion ban bill, and have worked since 2019 to pass laws in 11 states allowing patients and their families to hold physicians accountable for reproductive fraud. Childcare services are unaffordable and inaccessible to many women in Monroe County. Moreover, these services are often not available outside of “9-5” hours for women who work evening shifts or may cease during summer months and holiday breaks. Finally, I have worked to support child access prevention laws (with the American Academy of Pediatrics) that impose consequences upon adults who negligently allow children to access a gun and to promote “red flag” laws allowing law enforcement to remove firearms from individuals judged to be a danger to themselves or others. I have opposed state and federal bills that make it easier for individuals who are domestically violent to retain or obtain firearms, usually in violation of civil protective orders that prohibit them from accessing firearms. These efforts are more difficult after the U.S. Supreme Court decided New York State Pistol & Rifle Association v. Bruen in 2022, which enunciated a new, more difficult legal rule requiring that constitutional firearm regulations have historical parallels, prompting challenges to firearm regulations protecting victims of violence (who are disproportionately women and children). In response, some courts have determined that these regulations unconstitutionally infringe on perpetrators’ Second Amendment rights.