CARMEL, Ind. — Jim Brainard was first elected 28 years ago as mayor of Carmel. He is now one of the longest-serving mayors in Indiana’s history.
Brainard, a Republican, is calling it quits as the mayor of Carmel at the end of the year. He leaves a long legacy behind as Carmel looks much different than it did 28 years ago when he first took office in 1995.
“I had a goal of getting reelected once and doing it for eight years,” he told WISH-TV. “But we were always in the middle of a big project. And we were having fun. We were getting to build this brand-new city. And so I kept doing it.”
One of his most recognizable legacies as mayor is the 150 round-a-bouts in Carmel. The city boasts the most round-a-bount out of any other city in America.
“They have absolutely been worth the investment. Based on national averages, we’re saving at least 10 lives per year,” he said. “We know it’s much better for the environment. Millions of tons of carbon have not been emitted because they’re so much more environmentally friendly.”
Brainard hopes that his fellow Republicans learn to embrace the importance of solving environmental issues. He said it was Republicans who created the EPA under President Nixon. He added that Republicans also crafted the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
He is also proud of how the city has moved forward in becoming more diverse, especially within its police department. Recently, Carel PD came under scrutiny for pulling over a disproportionate number of people of color.
“Today, Carmel is 25% nonwhite, welcomes people from every race, background, religion, place of origin, and I’m proud of that,” Brainard said.
Brainard is also proud of how the city’s downtown district has developed under his leadership.
The bottom line for Brainard is that if other Hoosiers are considering a run for public office where they live he said you need to do it for the right reasons.
“I was raising my family here and I thought I could make a difference,” Brainard said. “Do it because you care about the place you’ve chosen to live, the place you’ve chosen to raise your family. Do it to make your part of the world better. If you do it for those reasons you’ll have a positive impact.”
Sue Finkham will succeed Brainard in Carmel’s city hall on January 1st, 2024.
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