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Bloomington Mayoral Candidates Debate Development, Healthcare, Sustainability

Amanda Barge and John Hamilton answering questions during a mayoral debate.

The mayoral debate was hosted by Democracy for Monroe County at the Monroe County Public Library. (Alex Eady, WTIU/WFIU News)

Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton and his Democratic challenger Amanda Barge took questions from residents last night on topics ranging from access to healthcare and affordable housing to sustainability.

In addressing the rapid growth of development throughout the city, Hamilton says he’s proud of how the city has grown and taken on a variety of projects which all improve resident’s quality of life.

But Barge says the current administration lacks a unified vision to plan for a growing city.

"As your mayor I will be progressive and I’ll look at how any project impacts everyone not just a select few," says Barge.

Hamilton touted his successes during his term, including creating more affordable housing, improving water quality and promoting sustainability through solar panel initiatives.

Barge reinforced her campaign agenda which includes improving transparency and giving a voice to marginalized populations, which she says the current administration has failed to do.

Barge says she also shares the concern of some residents who say the administration lacks public engagement for major developments, including pending plans for the downtown hospital redevelopment site.

Hamilton says he envisions a planning process that is guided by the needs of the residents in the surrounding neighborhoods.

“We purchased those 24 acres, which some people didn’t think we should do. We bought them so the public, we, can decide what do we want to do with that. There will be very public engagement with that starting later this year.”

If elected, Barge would be the city’s first female mayor since 1994.

Mayor John Hamilton is approaching the end of his first term.

The debate, hosted by Democracy for Monroe County, also featured remarks from Nicole Bolden, who will run unopposed to maintain her seat as Bloomington City Clerk. When elected in 2015, Bolden became the first African American woman elected to city office.

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