When Laura Campbell announced she was running for Rick Sharp’s vacant council seat in the northwest district, some people immediately wanted to find out “which side she was on.”
Online commenters analyzed Campbell’s comments to try to decide if she resembled city councilors who regularly back Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard’s vision or those that have been strongly critical of the mayor.
Campbell insisted that, “I do get along with everybody” and her recent campaign event seems to prove that’s true.
A diverse group of local leaders gathered to support Campbell at an event hosted on Jan 29 by local developer Steve Pittman. There was Clerk-Treasurer Diana Cordray and her election opponent Christine Pauley. Also in attendance was City Councilor Sue Finkam, who vocally supports Brainard, and Council President Rick Sharp who is running against Brainard.
Campbell has made a name for herself by serving as vice-chair of the Hamilton County Republican Party and being involved “behind the scenes” in several grassroots campaign. Her husband, Rick Campbell, is a judge for Superior Court 4. As of now, Campbell is running unopposed. The deadline to file is Feb. 6.
Sharp called Campbell a “solid conservative and consensus builder.”
“I think the diverse crowd you see here shows the enormous amount of respect that people have for her,” he said. “When she talked to me about running for my seat, I told her that I hope she becomes the candidate that gets elected, unopposed or not, because I can’t think of someone more ideal to fill my seat.”
Finkam said she thinks there’s been too much conflict between city councilors recently and Campbell would be a positive presence.
“I think this turnout that underscores Laura’s experience and her ability to bridge divides and bring people together,” she said. “For that reason, I’m hoping we’ll be able to work together. I think she would be a delight to work with.”
Cordray said she’s worked with Campbell on campaigns she predicts that she will be a strong fiscal conservative.
“I think we need a better balance on the council,” she said. “Liberals are fine, but we need some conservatives on the council and she helps provide the conservative balance.”
When asked about several divisive issues, such as the level of Carmel’s debt, Campbell said she likes to look at both sides of the argument. She said she loves the quality of life in the city and believes in Brainard’s vision, but she’s concerned about the level of debt accrued in achieving that vision.
“I haven’t always agreed with every project that Carmel has approved, but I do want these projects to all be successful,” she said.
After Campbell gave her speech, Pittman told her that he thought she would be objective and rational.
“You come across as someone who is very open minded, you want all the facts,” he said. “You are very independent. You really act like a judge should act, looking at the facts. I know you’ll at some point be making decisions that will make one group mad, but I know it won’t bother you, you’ll make whatever decision is best.”