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Bloomington City Councilman Says I-69 Did Not Cost Him Votes

Andy Ruff (center) and Ed Schwartzman (far right) took opposite views on I-69 during their campaigns.

City Councilman Andy Ruff, a strong opponent to I-69 who was re-elected this year, received less votes than either of the other two candidates who have not been as strongly opposed to the interstate.

Ruff is a member of the Monroe County Metropolitan Planning Organization, which has been involved in a mounting dispute with the Indiana Department of Transportation over the construction of I-69.

This past election, Ruff received about 21 percent of the vote, a lower percent than he has received in previous general elections and less than candidates Susan Sandberg and Tim Mayer.

Ruff says he does not think I-69 was why he received less votes. He points out that most elected officials in Bloomington agree with him when it comes to I-69, and those candidates were also re-elected.

“I think the evidence suggests people do think about I-69 when they vote, and they vote for candidates who are opposed to I-69,” he says.

But in a campaign debate this year, the other two city council members, Sandberg and Mayer, took a more mild stance on I-69, saying there was little Bloomington could do to stop it from being built.

Ruff says Democrats might have been upset about his opposition to a plan for building roundabouts, and Republicans tend not to like his platform over-all.

“I think I’m believed by most Republicans in the community to be more of an activist liberal than the other two candidates,” Ruff says.

Campaigning in Support of I-69

Bloomington restaurant owner Ed Schwartzman ran for city council as a strong supporter of I-69. Even though he did not win, Schwartzman had a modest showing with 15 percent of the vote.

Schwartzman says he can not be sure of how his position affected the outcome, but many people he spoke were glad to have a pro-I-69 candidate in the race.

“I wore an Interstate 69 pin on my chest throughout my entire campaign, and every time I would tell folks  that I supported it, maybe just people are polite because people cheered, people shook my hand aggressively, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe it finally somebody is saying what I feel,'” Schwartzman says.

Ruff says he does not know if he will be on the MPO next year, but says he will keep opposing I-69 as long as possible.

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