Bruce Mitchell common council candidacy status tabled

Published: Feb. 15, 2023 at 7:12 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) -A Democratic Common Council candidate for South Bend’s 6th district is waiting to find out whether or not he will be able to run for South Bend Common Council after his candidacy was challenged for not having voted in the previous two primaries as a Democrat.

Democratic Party Chair Diana Hess said the rule only came into effect last year, and they made a decision not to certify any common council candidates who didn’t meet that threshold for this primary.

There have only been two primaries since 2015, so anyone who wanted to run for common council this year who was not a regular voter would have needed to know about the policy and anticipate its use for this year’s primary back in 2015.

Mitchell only voted in one previous primary back in 2015, which leaves it up to the party whether or not to certify him.

Hess denied any implication that her refusal to certify him up to this point was based on his race, his primary opponent, or his affiliation with any political groups. She said it would be unfair to certify him after another candidate chose not to file once learning about the two primary thresholds.

Mitchell’s supporters, some of which are still in city politics, raised the potential bias in this policy that could go against historically marginalized and disenfranchised groups wanting to run for common council.

“There are a lot of people who wouldn’t be qualified to run based on that. That is common knowledge, so I question the fact that that would even become a law, because it is common knowledge that a lot of people are abreast to the importance of voting in a primary election,” said South Bend City Clerk Dawn Jones.

“That is one objective way of telling whether someone is a Democrat,” said SJC Democratic Party Chair Diana Hess.

The election board will pick this conversation back up at their meeting on Feb. 23rd.