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Council newcomer confident one-party council can think critically about city's problems

Sherry Bolden-Simpson
Jeff Parrott/WVPE
Sherry Bolden-Simpson

When the South Bend Common Council has its first full agenda meeting of the year tonight, there will be three new faces.

One of those newcomers will be the first Democrat to represent her part of the city in more than 60 years.

Newly elected to the council for 2024 are Oliver Davis, Sherry Bolden-Simpson and Ophelia Gooden-Rodgers. They’re all Democrats, like the rest of the nine-member council.

That’s new. You have to go all the way back to 1962, a year before Studebaker closed, to find the last time a Democrat represented the 5th council district, which covers South Bend’s southeast side. But in the Nov. 7 election, Bolden-Simpson, a career educator, edged out incumbent Republican Eli Wax by just 37 votes.

Since there will no longer be a member of the other political party in the room to question things as the council tackles the city’s complex problems, I asked Bolden-Simpson whether people should worry that critical thinking will suffer any.

"No because I'm there," Bolden-Simpson said with a laugh. "No, I try not to paint anybody in a monolith, whether race, gender, even party affiliations. I already know, just from interacting, that's there's a diversity of thought."

Parrott, a longtime public radio fan, comes to WVPE with about 25 years of journalism experience at newspapers in Indiana and Michigan, including 13 years at The South Bend Tribune. He and Kristi live in Granger and have two children currently attending Indiana University in Bloomington. In his free time he enjoys fixing up their home, following his favorite college and professional sports teams, and watching TV (yes that's an acceptable hobby).