Even though he announced months ago, Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard made his re-election campaign official by filing his paperwork on Jan. 20.
His expected opponent, City Council President Rick Sharp, told Current that he expects to make his own announcement within two weeks. He will either run for mayor or an at-large council seat, meaning he’ll be embarking on a citywide election either way. Both candidates are filing campaign finance forms as well.
“I want to get all of my ducks in a row before any announcement is made because as soon as I announce I want to really hit the ground running,” he said. “I’ve never run in a citywide campaign so I’m excited to start campaigning.”
Campaign staffs haven’t been assembled just yet for either side. Brainard said he knows he’ll go with longtime campaign manager Allan Sutherlin, who has worked for him in each of his five elections. Sharp said right now he’s doing most of the work himself and he’ll be finding the right people very soon.
Sharp said his strategy is to remain positive, even though he wants to show his contrast against Brainard’s methods and spending philosophy. Some have said they wish Sharp would attack the mayor more, but Sharp said he would rather focus on his own qualifications.
“My wife and my close friends have instructions to beat me with a club if I start talking negative,” Sharp said. “Because the voters deserve better than that.”
Brainard said he was excited to make his re-election official. He said he doesn’t worry about who he might run against and he won’t ramp up his campaign until he knows if he even will have an opponent. He’s done some fundraising events, but hasn’t scheduled anything public just yet. At the time of the filing, Brainard was in Washington D.C. at a mayor’s conference for a few days.
“I’m looking forward to a good discussion about where the city is headed and the progress we’ve made and the progress we’d like to make,” he said.
Brainard he thinks the big issue is, “What people want in the community” and he highlighted success in job creations and keeping tax rates low. Sharp said he thinks the city’s mounting debt will be a huge issue.
Brainard is in the beneficial position of running as an incumbent, but he said he’s careful to not do any campaign work from City Hall. Nothing from a city e-mail address. Some have accused the mayor of crossing lines by sending out campaign letters to city employees, but Brainard said some employees’ mailing address could be picked up in databases if they live in Carmel. He said it’s important to him to keep governing and campaigning separate.
Sharp actually praises the mayor helping build Carmel into what it is today, but he thinks the future will require a prudent manager more than a dreamer.
“I’ve said to many people that I’m not against Jim Brainard. This is not personal,” he said. “I’m in opposition to some of the policies and management decisions. I’ve spent decades in business and my business experience making decisions about healthcare, cost-cutting would be to the advantage of continuing to moving Carmel forward and avoiding the risky policies of this administration.”