Meet Carmel’s West District city council candidates

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Two first-time candidates are running for Carmel City Council in the newly formed West District.

Republican Debra Minott, a retired attorney, is facing off against Democrat Miles Nelson, a founding partner of an executive search firm, in the Nov. 5 election.

They answered the following questions from Current. Visit YouAreCurrent.com to read their complete responses.

Minott

Name: Debra Minott

Age: 63

Family: Married to husband, Paul, for 36 years. Daughter, Emily, 31, and son, Tony, 28.

Years in Carmel: 14

High School: West Catholic High School in Grand Rapids, Mich.

College: Degree in sociology from the University of Michigan and law degree from the University of Michigan Law School

Website: MinottforCarmel.com

Previous political experience: I was appointed by Gov. Mitch Daniels to serve as the state personnel director and sat on the Governor’s Cabinet for three years starting in 2005. I was appointed by Gov. Mike Pence to lead the Family and Social Service Administration and sat on his cabinet in 2013 and 2014. I have also campaigned for Todd Young in his Senate campaign and assisted Mike Braun through canvassing performed by the Susan B. Anthony List. This is the first elected office I have sought.

Why do you want to run for office?

I am running to make a positive difference in the future of Carmel. I love living in Carmel. (Really, who doesn’t?) To keep the city moving in the right direction will require hard-working, energetic leaders who will listen to their constituents and make thoughtful and wise decisions. I am committed to doing that.

What are focus areas for your campaign?

My top issues are promoting public safety, maintaining sound infrastructure, and making wise and prudent decisions about spending. I also intend to seek input from the residents of the West District on the issues that are important to them.

What are your qualifications for this office?

As a lawyer, I understand contracts, statutory construction and the political process. As a senior business executive, I have developed and administered large budgets, created strategic plans and stretch goals and led large groups in the accomplishment of those goals. As a public servant, I learned what it means to serve as a steward of the public’s resources and what it takes to earn the public’s trust. As a board member at the Village of WestClay, I have spent the last 5 years working collaboratively with the other board members to make the Village an outstanding place to live.

What sets you apart from other candidates for this office?

The breadth of experience I have had in the private sector and in public service serving two governors uniquely prepared me for the issues I will face as a city councilor.

What is your favorite aspect of living in Carmel?

This is really the most difficult question. I love Carmel! My top two favorites are my amazing neighbors/neighborhood and low taxes.

What is an area where Carmel can improve?

I would like to see the city engage with its residents by sincerely seeking their input and pursuing a strategic plan that reflects the values, concerns and interests of its residents. As a city councilor, I will use a variety of methods to ensure that I am staying in touch with the people I represent.

What other organizations are you involved with?

  • Village of WestClay Owners Association—Board Member and Vice President
  • Trinity Free Clinic—Board Member and Secretary; also grant manager
  • St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church—member of Finance Council and liturgical minister
  • 40 Days for Life—immediate past co-chair
  • Gabriel Project/First Choice for Women–volunteer

Something most people don’t know about you?

I used to be fluent in Spanish, but after not using it for a few decades I am very rusty.

Something you want people to know about you?

I am hardworking, persistent, and honest, and a good listener. I want to seek the input of my constituents and represent their needs.

Something most people don’t know about you?

I used to be fluent in Spanish, but after not using it for a few decades I am very rusty.

Something you want people to know about you?

I am hardworking, persistent, and honest and a good listener. I want to seek the input of my constituents and represent their needs.

Nelson

Name: Miles Nelson

Age: 49

Family: Wife, Carolina Nelson, and two children, a freshman at Carmel High School and a middle schooler at Creekside Middle School. We have two dogs, one guinea pig and two turtles.

Years in Carmel: 15

High School: North Central High School

College: American University, Washington, D.C.

Website: MilesforCarmel.com

Previous political experience: No previous positions held. Currently running for Carmel City Council West District

Why do you want to run for office?

I’m passionate about public service and contributing to my community. Like so many, I love living in Carmel and I want to see it continue to grow and prosper for everyone.

What are focus areas for your campaign?

The foundation of my campaign will center around the following key principles. 1. To be an independent voice on the council. For too long this council has been represented by only one party. Democracies work best when a variety of voices come together working to better the community. 2. Fiscal Responsibility. Ensuring that everyone’s tax dollars are spent wisely and that progress and investments in our city are made thoughtfully and intelligently. 3. Ensure that Carmel remains a welcoming, safe and tolerant place for all, regardless of skin color or religion. 4. Transparency in government. Allowing citizens to see how and why decisions are made.

What are your qualifications for this office?

I’ve created three successful companies. I believe this experience shows that I know how to create and manage organizations. Additionally, I have a history of community engagement. Most recently, I served two and half years as board president of the Indianapolis Public Schools Education Foundation and served over six years on the board of Child Advocates the Marion County CASA. I feel this shows my interest in serving others and my ability to effectively work with others towards a common cause.

What sets you apart from other candidates for this office?

First, no Democrat has ever served on the Carmel City Council. Secondly, I have created three successful companies in three completely different industries. I feel that my business experience shows that I’m a job creator and innovative leader. My years of volunteering with the IPS Education Foundation, Child Advocates of Marion County show my passion for students and children. I am passionate about seeking opportunities for children and ensuring they have bright futures.

What is your favorite aspect of living in Carmel?

The quality of life. I love the schools, the parks and the downtown. This is a wonderful city to call home, raise kids, build a career and enjoy meeting people at the many events throughout the year.

What is an area where Carmel can improve?

I appreciate all the progress we’ve witnessed. However, moving forward, I want to see better management of our debt and more transparency in how and why decisions are made. It’s time for independent voices to help make decisions on where we go from here and how our tax dollars will be spent.

What other organizations are you involved with?

  • Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation – Board member
  • Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation Foundation – Board member
  • Hispanic Business Council (Indy Chamber) – Board member
  • OneZone – Member

Something most people don’t know about you?

I think I’ve eaten at every ethnic restaurant in Carmel. I love Indian food – more naan and palak paneer please!

Something you want people to know about you?

I come from a family where public service is encouraged. I’m a roll-up-my-sleeves-and-get-busy type of person.

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