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Watch now: Meet Misty Metroz, the write-in candidate for Bloomington mayor

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A fourth candidate is running to serve as the city's first new leader in eight years, but her name won't appear on the ballot Tuesday unless voters scribble it down. 

BLOOMINGTON — A fourth candidate is running to serve as the city's first new leader in eight years, but her name won't appear on the ballot Tuesday unless voters scribble it down. 

Meet Misty Metroz — that's spelled M-I-S-T-Y M-E-T-R-O-Z — the only certified write-in candidate for Bloomington mayor.

"I'm not a typical voice, not aligned with any particular group," Metroz told The Pantagraph. "There are some elected officials who generally want to do good, and that’s what I want to do as a leader."

A self-described "hometown girl," Metroz, 48, is a teacher assistant at Bent Elementary School, working mostly with students who have special needs. 

As a write-in candidate, votes for Metroz can only be counted if voters correctly write her name on the ballot. She explained she pulled a candidate packet and began gathering petition signatures last fall, but had to self-isolate due to contact with someone who may have had COVID-19.

After she emerged from the isolation, Metroz was only left with a week to collect signatures, so she pivoted and registered as a write-in.

"Even that wasn’t easy for me to do because I’m an introvert," Metroz said. "But I felt like I don’t have anything to lose, and I decided that I wanted to see this through to the end."

That philosophy of perseverance is one Metroz said she would bring to City Hall if elected mayor. She also would put a focus on preparedness.

Jackie Gunderson, Mboka Mwilambwe and Mike Straza are on the Tuesday ballot. Mayor Tari Renner is not seeking another term.

The city's response to the coronavirus pandemic, Metroz said, exposed a lot of areas that need improvement, like communicating with the public and with business owners. 

3 candidates on ballot for Bloomington mayor 

Another part of the city's pandemic response Metroz said she would have handled differently was the fining of bars and restaurants that didn't comply with state-imposed mitigations to stop the spread of the virus.

The mayor of Bloomington also chairs the city's liquor commission. Under current chair and Mayor Tari Renner, the commission since October has fined more than a dozen businesses for violations of virus rules, collecting over $6,000 in fines.

"Fining establishments that were open was not the way to go," Metroz said. "Businesses should be making the call on what their employees should do and whether customers should come in."

Asked how she squares that approach with the partnership between the city and District 87 to give money collected from the fines to families, Metroz said she sees the arrangement as a positive side effect, but that it shouldn't justify the city "just taking money from businesses like that."

To stimulate economic development, Metroz said she would push to create a more streamlined process for entrepreneurs to start a business. She also favors a standardized incentive program, but only one that spreads new growth across the city.

"Bringing in outside companies, machineries, assemblies, we need to have something in place, but we need to have that balance and stability of a variety of jobs that give people here different opportunities," Metroz said. 

Asked if she supports a version of a Welcoming City ordinance that would extend similar opportunities for immigrants, Metroz said she supports "people working together to persevere," but not the ordinance.

"When you fine businesses not compliant with a mandate but want to encourage people who come into the country illegally ... that's a double standard," Metroz said. "A leader needs to avoid those situations where you're favoring one group of people and not another." 

Metroz said that same logic applies to calls to decrease funding to the Bloomington Police Department. 

"Our police, there are so many facets to what they do. To reduce them, that would result in consequence," Metroz said. "If you have equipment that needs to be upgraded, but no money, and not enough officers already, you’re not making the community safer (by reducing funding)."

Metroz said she would work with the city council, which has the final say over the how the city spends its money, to examine "ripple effects" of reducing any department's funding. 

Asked if her lack of experience as an elected official might make those conversations more difficult were she mayor, Metroz said she's not worried.

"Look at elected officials who do have experience — time and time again they have shown they are just encouraging the nastiness or sitting silent," Metroz said. "Is that the kind of leader you want, or do you want someone who wants to see people lifted up and take a risk to achieve a goal?" 

FROM THE ARCHIVES: The Castle Theatre renovations 

Contact Timothy Eggert at (309) 820-3276. Follow him on Twitter: @TimothyMEggert


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