CANDIDATES RECOMMENDED FOR ENDORSEMENT BY THE DWC STEERING COMMITTEE:
The DWC Endorsement Committee has been hard at work reviewing applications, vetting information and interviewing progressive, prochoice women candidates from Monroe County who have filed for the 2020 Election. Now we’re ready to introduce you to the candidates that your Steering Committee has recommended to present to the membership for an endorsement vote. We will be voting at tomorrow’s breakfast. If you are a DWC member in good standing as of February 26, 2020 you are entitled to vote for Endorsement; because we know that not everyone can be at the breakfast, we will also be sending out ballots to all members who qualify so that they can vote by email or by proxy. Even if you cannot vote in this round, we hope you’ll check out these candidates, learn about their campaigns and the issues and consider them as you vote in the Primary on May 5.
Here are head shots and statements from all the candidates recommended for Endorsement:
PENNY GITHENS - COUNTY COMMISSIONER DISTRICT 3
I grew up in Richmond, Indiana. After receiving my bachelor’s degree in chemistry and math education, I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya. I later held faculty research appointments at both Yale and Vanderbilt Universities, and participated in the creation of an international business program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. It was my experiences as the mother of a child with autism that drew me into the political arena.
My involvement with the local and state autism groups led to my many years as a volunteer educational advocate. Building on my background in health policy, I led the movement to mandate health insurance coverage for those with autism in the state of Indiana.
In my tenure as Monroe County Commissioner for District 3, I have focused on solid waste management, fire protection, storm water management, county parks and trails, community corrections, and the Substance Use Disorder Commission. I plan to focus on these projects, plus rural transit, in my next term.
I recently retired from the IU School of Education and continue to volunteer with special needs students through the Monroe County YMCA, as well as volunteering with IN*SOURCE. My husband, Ed Buffie, and I have two adult sons, Nathan and Nick.
JULIE THOMAS - COUNTY COMMISSIONER DISTRICT 2
It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve our community since 2013. Two issues of focus in my 2012 and 2016 campaigns for County Commissioner still hold true in 2020 – environmental sustainability and encouraging civic engagement. It’s not because goals were not achieved. They are principles that reflect my perspective and approach to the many tasks performed by the Board of Commissioners. The Board works as a team – and I am grateful for my colleagues and I am proud of what we have accomplished. During my tenure as a Commissioner, we instituted a Guaranteed Energy Savings program and solar arrays are installed or planned for five county buildings. This includes the County Employee parking garage which also features plug-in receptacles for vehicles and a green wall. I worked extensively on the Bicentennial programming in 2018. There were a series of events throughout the year – both formal and informal – designed to appeal to children, families and adults. It was an opportunity to educate the public about the importance of country government and it fostered community connections with local government. The process for townships to join the Monroe Fire District has been crafted to ensure public information sessions occur and public input is incorporated.
New and ongoing projects include Criminal Justice Reform. I will work with county elected officials, staff, and residents to help create a justice system that is fair and equitable for everyone. The Convention and Civic Center project has occupied months of time and attention. We are working to ensure that County taxpayers are treated fairly in the process to develop a center that serves everyone. In Planning, the County’s Development Ordinance will require significant effort. The Quarries is the Uplands is a proposed 100-acre limestone heritage museum, music venue and park that we are developing to benefit county residents.
I have listed a number of important projects – past, present and future. In addition, the Monroe County Board of Commissioners provides the day-to-day administrative, executive and legislative leadership that county residents require. It’s not always glamorous, but it is always interesting. It requires time, attention to detail, and on-going conversations with residents, elected officials, employees, and community stakeholders. And it requires consideration of the limited budgets we face every year. I enjoy the role of public servant and I hope to continue to serve the residents of Monroe County.
CHERYL MUNSON - COUNTY COUNCIL AT-LARGE
I am Cheryl Munson, candidate for re-election to an At-Large seat on the Monroe County Council. I am currently in my second term and am honored to have been serving you. I am running for re-election because I love Monroe County – our beautiful setting and our diverse and vibrant community. I came here 49 years ago with my husband. We have a farm in Indian Creek Township where we raised two children and uncounted animals, and now greatly enjoy our four grandgirls, gardens, and Labrador retrievers. In my professional work, I am an archaeologist and Research Scientist in the Department of Anthropology at Indiana University. Developing and managing detailed budgets for large excavation projects, and collecting and analyzing information, have proven to be particularly helpful preparation for the Council’s work. So too has been the experience of my four terms on the Indian Creek Township Board. Most of all, what prepared me for representing County residents was my decades of experience as an active volunteer in our community: Planned Parenthood, MCCSC committees, PTO, Girl Scouts, 4-H, youth theater and sports, Bloomington Restorations, Grace Center Food Pantry, County boards and committees — the same kind of volunteer work many of you carry out. This work has connected me to people and the issues that concern them throughout the County. I continue to be a volunteer and serve on the boards of the Friends of Lake Monroe, the Monroe County History Center, and my neighborhood association in Indian Creek Township.
I take great pride in the collaborative accomplishments made during my work on the Council. Highlights include developing secure financing for juvenile services, setting up a structure to adequately fund elections year to year, increasing support for housing and food provided by our not-for-profits, working with City and County officials on expanded public safety, tourism, and recycling, serving two years as Council President and passing fiscally responsible budgets each year. In my next four years I will focus on three important areas: our Responsibilities, our Resources, and our Resilience. The Council’s primary responsibility of setting the budget and employee compensation is an exercise in knowing community values and weighing obligations and priorities. Preserving our valuable resources means striving to protect the natural, cultural, and governmental resources that residents value and depend on. Building resilience requires County plans for both current needs and future changes, which I think should include expanding affordable housing, decreasing food insecurity, and improving our justice and mental health care systems. As a member of the DWC, I hope you will vote to endorse my candidacy. To help my campaign or get more info, please visit www.cherylmunson.us, or just send me an email - [email protected] or call (812-325-3407).
JESSICA MCCLELLAN - TREASURER
As Treasurer, I would be honored to continue my service to the taxpayers of Monroe County. I will continue to provide the gold standard in customer service, policies that help the taxpayer, and a positive working relationship to support all of county government. I dedicate the office to individualized attention to customers, responding to customer needs and providing easy access to information. The Auditor and I jointly oversee the county’s $200 million accounting system, both banking and budgets. I administer property tax billing and collection, disburse payments, and as well as manage a staff dedicated employees with over 50 years of combined experience. I've worked hard to strengthen the collaboration between the Auditor and Treasurer. I pledge to listen to our citizens, give diligent oversight to all fiscal matters, and provide the best service to the county.
I am honored to have the opportunity to ask for endorsement from the DWC. I ask you to consider my strengths and weaknesses, give me feedback and criticism, and hold me accountable for my decisions. This guidance from my mentors and peers makes us all better at our jobs and more in tune with our community needs. The endorsement committee asked difficult questions, as usual, and I have some things to think about. I appreciate the thorough endorsement process and look forward to seeing everyone on Friday morning.
JOANI SHIELDS - CORONER
My name is Joani Shields and I am running for re-election as the Monroe County Coroner.
A little about myself:
I am a single mother of 2 adult men who have families of their own now. My oldest, Bradley is 32, a journeyman electrician and a member of the IBEW Local 725 in Terre Haute, married and has 2 fur babies. My youngest, Brennan, is 27, a concrete finisher/laborer and father of my only human grandchild, my 6 year old granddaughter Lily.
I am a certified Emergency Medical Technician and have been since 1999. Currently I work for IU Health Bloomington Hospital Emergency Transport Services and I am the Medical Records Coordinator at Centerstone. I have worked as a Deputy/Chief Deputy and now Coroner for the past 14 years.
As Coroner, I have made great strides to correct some internal office issues that had been there from previous coroners and feel I have gotten the most of them taken care. We no longer have gaps on the schedule and scene response times have been shortened from what they were previously. I have gotten my deputies a raise and I am working toward getting a transport unit, which we desperately need. Our case load has increased over the last few years however I have managed to utilize resources to help absorb the costs of the increase without having to increase my budget.
I am running for re-election because there are still a few things I would like to accomplish before I leave this position. I want to continue to pursue to get a transport vehicle, look towards acquiring a morgue and eventually get the position of Coroner recognized and compensated appropriately as a full time position.
Four years ago, I was honored and privileged to have the DWC endorsement. Having such a powerful group of women show support for your campaign is truly an honor. The passion each one of these women have for what they believe in, what we all believe in and the fight for women’s equality blows me away. I am proud to say I am a member of the Democratic Women’s Caucus.
VALERI HAUGHTON - CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE, DIVISION 2, SEAT 6
Valeri Haughton is in her twelfth year as a Monroe Circuit Court Judge. She stresses the importance of listening compassionately and ruling fairly when presiding over legal cases.
Judge Haughton has presided over family law, small claims and protective order cases. Her current caseload consists of criminal cases, including most of the domestic violence and sexual assault cases in Monroe County. She served as Presiding Judge of the Monroe County Board of Judges from 2014 through 2016. Val was a Deputy Prosecutor for fourteen years and an attorney in the Office of the Deputy Public Defender for eighteen months prior to her first election in 2008.
Haughton is a member and former chair of the Bloomington Human Rights Commission and serves on the board of directors for the Monroe County Community Kitchen, the Bloomington Playwrights Project, and My Sister’s Closet. In addition to her membership in the Democratic Women’s Caucus, she is a member of the NAACP, the Elks, the Monroe County Bar Association and the National Bar Association.
In 2015, Haughton was named City of Bloomington Woman of the Year and in 2018, she and her husband - Frank Motley - received the Living Legends award at that year’s Black History Month Gala. They have five children and nineteen grandchildren.
KARA KROTHE - CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE, DIVISION 8, SEAT 5
Lifelong Democrat Kara Krothe is seeking the nomination of the Democratic Party for judge in Monroe Circuit Court Seat V left vacant when Judge Kenneth Todd retired in 2018. Kara grew up in Bloomington attending our local schools. Kara is running for judge because she believes her experience and integrity lend themselves to upholding the law in a fair and impartial manner.
Kara has been a public defender for 16 years and has represented indigent clients in felony, misdemeanor, juvenile and civil cases (CHINS). Directing all aspects of the clients’ cases, she has attended court hearings with clients, assessed the strength of their legal arguments and apprised them of their legal options. Handling large caseloads, she strives to treat all clients fairly and with compassion. Kara is a seven year veteran of the Monroe County Drug Treatment Court team. She believes in the positive impact problem solving courts can have on its participants and our community.
Kara believes that her 19 years of courtroom experience will translate into making the courtroom less intimidating and more responsive for the victims of crime, the accused, participants, attorneys and staff involved in the cases coming before her. Kara Krothe is asking for your Democratic primary vote on May 5th.
SHELLI YODER - STATE SENATOR, DISTRICT 40
I’m Shelli Yoder, and I’m running to ensure that our voice in the Indiana State Senate is unflinchingly progressive and pro-choice. I’m running to combat the climate crisis, end gun violence, grow the economy inclusively, fight for public education, and repair the damage done to our democracy by gerrymandered district lines. I’m running because I believe in pursuing equity for members of the LGBTQ+, Black, and Brown communities. I’m running because I believe that government has a moral responsibility to provide public health and wellness services to all, and I believe that an unjust criminal justice system must be reformed. I also believe the time to decriminalize cannabis is now. You can find all 9 of my public policy priorities and more about my values at www.shelliyoder.com.
I have spent my life investing in the lives of others— as an activist for decades, a nonprofit executive, a teacher at IU, a mother of 3, and a member of the Monroe County Council for the past 6 years, where I served two years as President and led as a collaborative, careful, and compassionate steward of our fiscal resources. I am proud of past accomplishments in our community’s struggle against the opioid epidemic and for increasing access to mental health services; increasing services to veterans and youth; and enhancing our emergency 911 system and infrastructure. And, of course I am proud of every opportunity I had to stand alongside our local Planned Parenthood provider and take tough votes to help fund their provision of reproductive healthcare options in our community.
I am grateful for your continuing commitment to the DWC and support of pro-choice, progressive women to be involved in the electoral process. I am asking for your support to receive the DWC endorsement. Thank you, Shelli Yoder
TIFFANY GRANT - STATE REP., DISTRICT 60
As a teacher, I work hard every day to positively impact the lives of about 100 students. As a school building leader, I could positively impact about 1,500 people during the school year. As a State House Representative, I have the opportunity to positively impact over 60,000 Morgan County and Monroe County Hoosiers. And, my work in the Indiana State House would potentially positively impact nearly 7 million people across the state of Indiana.
As your State Representative, I will work to keep the citizens of District 60 better informed about their state government. I will listen to you and bring your voice to the State House. As a teacher, I am well-qualified to learn about all of the issues facing our district, understand the impact of legislation on issues, find solutions to issues, work with my colleagues to get the job done, and along the way, educate my constituents about each of those steps.
My goals as a state representative include working to:
● Support public education services (including providing better wages for teachers and better services for students),
● Expand access to wellness programs (including emotional health care and appropriate reproductive rights for women), and
● Promote living wage job opportunities (including creating pathways for adults to seek training in trade careers and increasing the minimum wage for all jobs in Indiana). And the foundation for each of those goals and all of my work (currently and as a State Representative) is a knowledge that each of us is created equal (no matter gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.) and that we all are worthy of quality representation that works for equal opportunities for all people in the state of Indiana. When the needs listed above are being met for every single person, only then can we work together to build better communities for everyone.
ALYSSA BAILEY - STATE REP., DISTRICT 62
Good afternoon! First off, I want to thank the DWC for your consideration of endorsing me. I am sorry that I cannot be there in person, but I am currently on military orders at Grissom Air Base, north of Kokomo. My name is Alyssa Bailey and I am running for state representative for district 62. I am a wife, mother, Army Veteran, current member of the Air Force Reserves and native Hoosier. I am a public school teacher at WRV Elementary and a union leader. My husband and I both work in the area and we have laid our family roots here. It is important to us and our family that district 62 not just survives, but thrives!
I attended the red for ed rally in November to support public education and while there, ran into Melanie Wright, who is both the state rep for district 35 and a fellow teacher. To say I was inspired is an understatement. Representative Wright planted a seed that has led me to give district 62 a better option for state Representative. As a teacher, I want to focus on how important it is to READ: Revitalize our district through Education, Accessible & Affordable Healthcare, and developing our economy.
I will do this by giving local control back to our communities. I will hold voucher and charter schools more accountable, while ensuring public schools are appropriately funded and able to prepare students to succeed upon graduation. I will ensure that our citizens are able to access and afford quality health care, including mental health providers and services, while supporting price transparency and holding insurance companies accountable to patients and providers. I will boost our economy by working to bring industries to our district and investing into economic, workforce, and career development.
I will continue to support initiatives that strengthen our district while looking for solutions on issues that are important to our neighbors, our families...to us. I WILL be a voice that represents the needs of district 62, but I cannot do this alone. This campaign NEEDS your support, whether volunteering, donating, or helping to spread the word. YOUR voice will be heard, but to do this, I need your vote at the polls in November! Please vote Alyssa Bailey for State Representative for District 62. Thank you!
PAULA STALEY - STATE REP., DISTRICT 65
Hoosier born and raised, in a family of nine. after high school, I became a nurse because I wanted to help people and be part of a mission greater than myself. This led ultimately to a career in public health.
I am running for State Representative, District 65 because I see policies that support Hoosier families are non-existent, and the super-majority Republican legislature is captured by big-moneyed interests. I will fight for affordable, accessible healthcare, and policies that support our families and protect our environment.
I know what it’s like to struggle to provide a home and put food on the table for 3 children, while both working and going to school full-time, as a single parent. I know what it’s like to suffer in an abusive relationship. I know what it’s like to be down to my last $20. And I know what it’s like to not go to the doctor because of a $10 co-pay. These experiences made me who I am and gave me a deep understanding for the struggle of working families.
I earned undergraduate degrees in nursing and public health from Indiana University and a master’s degree in public administration from University of Louisville. Working in environmental health and policy development at a local health department and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, I created sound public health and environmental policy that made a difference in the lives of children and families.
I live in the beautiful town of Nashville with my husband and great lab, Rosie. I have ten beautiful grandchildren whose parents are teaching them to be caring, loving humans.
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