My name is Sam Ujdak and I’m writing you today because of your roles as precinct chairs and vice chairs here in Monroe County. We have a caucus on the horizon to fill an at-large seat on the county council. After careful consideration and discussion with friends, family, and fellow residents of our county, I would like to declare my intention to stand as a candidate in that caucus. I have spoken with Mr. Deckard a number of times and I can assure you that I am hard pressed to think of anyone I respect and admire more than Trent.
Some of you know me, but I understand many of you do not. To that end, I would like to tell you a little about my background and why I would be a strong choice to serve on the Monroe County Council. I arrived in Bloomington in 2011 from my hometown of South Bend to attend Indiana University as a sophomore. I thought I would return to South Bend after graduation, but I fell fiercely in love with the foothills and sunsets of this special place. More so, I fell in love with the community I found here. I left briefly in 2014 to attend an MA program in Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan where I taught History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict both years.
When I returned in 2016, I began working as an Uber driver while I transitioned out of academia. In that role I drove to every corner of Monroe County and met literally thousands of people in a setting uniquely tailored to teach me something about each and every one of them. They each taught me something about their lives, their wants, their needs, and their home. This year, I began a position as the Director of Development at Middle Way House. When I started with the organization, I reached out to every staff member that I could in order to get to know them and their specific program needs and challenges. This continues to allow me to effectively communicate program needs to folks in the community and offer the most dynamic opportunity for support. As much as I am responsible to the organization and staff, I am responsible to our supporters to keep them appraised of our impact in the community and stewardship of their contributions. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet leaders of community organizations around the county which has afforded me greater insight into both the challenges facing our most marginalized neighbors and the challenges facing those who have dedicated their lives to helping those most in need.
Local government is not a foreign concept to me. Three generations of my family before me have served their community in party and public offices at the local level. I grew up in city council chambers, offices of the county clerks, and historic preservation sites, among others. I spent every moment fascinated and absorbed every thing I could. This is not to say I feel public office is something I am owed. After the November of 2016, I spent time speaking with a number of folks who were frightened by what they saw happening in their community. Many of them had not been engaged in the political process before but wanted to take action. I, too, felt the need to do more.
That begin with my volunteering to canvas on the “Your Voice Matters” listening tour where I had the opportunity to talk to our neighbors in the county about what concerned them most and, most importantly, what concerns they felt were not being heard. I have since spent time canvassing for the coordinated campaign, often traveling to more distant parts of the county, as well as volunteering at the Monroe County Democrats booth at the Bloomington Farmers Market most Saturdays. In the 2018 primary I was elected as the precinct chair of Perry 31 and as a delegate to the Democratic State Convention.
I’ve learned a great deal throughout this process and I have plenty more to learn. Those lessons have built in me strong convictions that would guide me in serving Monroe County.
• Opioids & Harm Reduction
• Emergency Services and Infrastructure
The cost of housing has soared in Bloomington in recent years and this has an adverse effect on residents throughout the county. I would like to work with the county council, the commissioners, Bloomington city government, and other community partners to find ways to ease the burden on those struggling to find a home where they can afford their rent. I believe in responsible economic development that doesn’t push folks out of communities they’ve lived in for generations.
Opioids & Harm Reduction
I believe in pragmatic fiscal stewardship but reject the notion that this means sacrificing compassion. I believe in supporting organizations and community partners on the front lines of combating the opioid epidemic that has touched every one of us. I strongly support harm reduction and treatment programs. I believe and support survivors. I believe in talking to people who serve their community in direct roles every day to determine how best to confront these issues. I believe our fight should never, ever be with those experiencing homelessness, but with homelessness itself. I believe in finding every possible measure for as many of my neighbors as possible to go to sleep at night with a roof over their head.
Emergency Services and Infrastructure
I believe county government should do everything within its power to make sure residents of rural communities have access to timely emergency services, an internet infrastructure that has become essential in modern life, schools they can be proud of, and a community that inspires hope. I believe it is a moral obligation to maintain the integrity of the water we drink and in preserving the forests and hills that inspire generations of folks to come to this place and draw them to make it their home.
Running through all of this is my belief that there is always a place for people, even in their strongest moments of disagreement, to come together and find solutions to the problems that matter to us most. We all share a dream and an imagination that allow us to envision something better for the home we share. I am not asking for your vote with a promise to fight for our neighbors here in Monroe County. They have always had plenty of fight in them. I am asking for your vote with a promise to work. I promise to work every day to listen to our neighbors. I promise to work every day to help build a community on the foundation of their aspirations. I promise to work to support and stand up for those who cannot do so for themselves. If elected, I promise to serve my community honestly and ethically. My name is Sam Ujdak, and I would be honored to have your vote for Monroe County Council.
I understand many of you may have questions or simply want to get to know me better. I will do everything I can over the coming weeks to make myself available and to speak with as many of you as possible. I can be reached at (574) 855-7288 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All the very best,
Candidate for Monroe County Council, At-Large