Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard is beginning his sixth, four-year term in office. This has led some to ask if he has any political aspirations beyond 2020.
So is this his last term as mayor?
“You know, I’m not even thinking about it,” Brainard told Current in Carmel. “I’m thinking about this term. I’m going to focus on it and work hard and make that decision several years from now.”
Rick Sharp, former president of the Carmel City Council who ran against Brainard for mayor in 2015, said he thinks it might be Brainard’s last term, and that could be why the mayor has been so eager to pass so many new projects.
“I think the signs are that this is his last term, and my heart goes out to whoever the mayor is that follows him, because he’ll be deeply in debt,” he said.
Sharp said the speculation has been fueled by the mayor’s frequent trips out of the country to speak about climate change with the U.S. State Dept. Speakers Bureau.
Sharp said he wouldn’t commit to a run for mayor in four years, but he wouldn’t rule it out.
“I have no plans at the moment for any other public office, but I will remain active in local politics,” he said. “I would never be so foolish to say, ‘I would never,’ but I’ll look to see what opportunities present themselves, and maybe it’s none. I don’t believe in career politicians who spend their lives running for office. Public service is a calling, not a career. If I can be of service, I won’t shy away from that, but I’ll be happy serving my community in ways other than running for elected office. I’m not announcing any plans, and I’m not closing any doors.”
Sharp said looking back on his campaign for mayor, he believes he focused too much on detailed policy measures instead of a simpler campaign slogan.
“The problem was that it wasn’t sexy. It was too inside baseball,” he said.
Some names have been mentioned as possible future candidates for mayor in four years. City Councilors Kevin “Woody” Rider, Sue Finkam and Jeff Worrell have been suggested, but the elected officials said they would rather talk about their business right now than an election in four years.
If incumbent city councilors decide to run for mayor, it could mean several seats open for council elections. A candidate can’t run for council and mayor at the same time, plus there will be two additional seats for city council added because of Carmel’s move to second-class city status in 2020.