Q&A: Mayor Jim Brainard discusses not running for mayor

Maryam Hafeez

Alan Huang

What caused you to make the decision to not run for mayor anymore? 

Our city is growing, it is successful and we have many exciting projects to come. I have often said I wanted to stay until those projects are completed, but now is a good time for me to take on new challenges and let the next mayor focus on the future.

What plans do you have for the future?

I am leaving public office, but I won’t be retiring. I plan to seek new opportunities in the private sector. I have often been asked to offer advice on matters of city design, development, sustainability and livability. I look forward to helping other communities and business sectors learn from Carmel’s success.

What first inspired you to run for mayor?

I studied history and have always been fascinated by the great cities of the world and how they were built and sustained for thousands of years. When I moved to Carmel, there were many friends and community members who asked me to run for mayor. I wanted to be part of making Carmel a better place to live by focusing on the lessons learned from those great cities in Europe and around the globe.

What are some of the most significant changes you have brought to Carmel during your time as mayor?

Building the Monon Greenway, improving the roads and infrastructure – especially our network of roundabouts – maintaining low taxes and a good tax climate, building our new downtown City Center and turning the old downtown into the Arts & Design District.

Which of your accomplishments are you most proud of and why?

I am proud of all of our accomplishments, especially the way we have focused on building a walkable, sustainable city where it is safe to drive, ride bikes and walk no matter where you live or where you are going.

What did you enjoy most about being mayor?

I have enormous gratitude for having the opportunity and joy of serving the people of Carmel for 27 years. When I walk along the Monon and see all the events which bring people together, people with different backgrounds, cultures and lifestyles, it makes me feel good that we have created a community that transcends those traditional barriers that too often keep us from learning about and accepting each other.

What do you think will be your longest lasting legacy?

In the past nearly three decades, we have transformed a once sleepy suburban community – a bedroom community where people would wake up, spend an hour driving to their job in Indianapolis and then come home at night to sleep. Thanks to our economic development strategy, which includes investing in infrastructure, the arts and cultural amenities, Carmel has been able to attract new corporate employers making it possible for our residents to live and work in the same community. They spend less time in their cars and more time with their friends and family at a local show or dining at a local restaurant. Other cities have seen this transition and have traveled here to see it in person, or invited me to come there and help them mimic what we have done in Carmel. Perhaps the lasting legacy will be the work I can do in the future to share our success story with others and then watch as they begin transforming their communities.

How do you want people to remember you and your time as mayor?

I hope they remember how we all worked together – government, private businesses, community groups and local leaders – to build this city into one of the best places to live in America. A place where people of all ages, cultures, backgrounds and lifestyles can live, work, play and establish their roots in a community that is warm and welcoming to all.

What are your hopes for Carmel for the future?

I plan to spend the next year working hard to advance and complete many of the projects that make Carmel a great place to live or to visit. I won’t be slowing down and I expect that Carmel will not be slowing down either. We will continue to thrive no matter what challenges lie ahead.

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