After he decided to challenge Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard in the 2011 election, City Councilor John Accetturo was forced to vacant his council seat.
But he never really went away. He spoke regularly during public comment sessions of city council meetings and penned letters to the editor in Current in Carmel. He attended political forums and fundraisers. He scoured through any documents made publicly available from the Carmel Redevelopment Commission.
Now Accetturo wants to recapture his former northeast district council seat from incumbent Sue Finkam.
He filed the last day of the filing deadline on Feb. 6. He said he waited to see if Finkam would have an opponent he could support, but he didn’t like the idea of the Brainard-friendly incumbent running unopposed.
“If Finkam would have had an opponent, I might not be running,” he said. “My concern is the future of our city, not just for me, but for my kids as well.”
Accetturo has been known for being a vocal critic of what he views as excessive spending. The New York Times even mentioned Accetturo in a lengthy article that painted a rosy picture of Carmel’s redevelopment. The Times claimed that Accetturo, “lost command of his message after he mailed a campaign flier to 10,000 households that featured a portrait of Mayor Brainard alongside those of Muammar el-Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein.”
Accetturo said he’s not an extremist like some want to paint him as. He said he just feels it’s important to ask question for the sake of transparency.
“I examine things and look at things very closely and ask a lot of questions,” he said. “Carmel’s financing plans are very complex.”
He said he’s concerned about the city’s infrastructure spending, especially repaving of roads. He said Carmel neighborhoods east of Keystone Avenue haven’t seen a new roundabout in more than a decade. He said he’s worried about the city or the CRC’s spending priorities and thinks there’s no reason for Carmel to have as much debt as it has.
“Carmel is so wealthy that if we’re doing things right then taxes should go down,” he said.
Finkam has raised $15,503.83 including cash on hand in 2014. Accetturo raised nearly $19,000 when he ran for mayor and lost in 2011 with 21.54 percent of the vote. The last time he ran for a city council seat in 2007 he raised a little more than $3,500 and won with 42.94 percent of the vote. Finkam won the 2011 seat with 52.27 percent of the vote.
“I fundraise from the average person,” Accetturo said. “Not people with special interests.”
Finkam said she’s “inherently more positive” about the state of Carmel financially than her opponent.
“John and I have drastically different outlooks for the future of Carmel and how we get there,” she said.
Finkam said she’s very familiar with Accetturo and she looks forward to a good debate.
“At first I was disappointed, until I reminded myself that we are incredibly lucky to live in a country where anyone can file to be a part of an election to represent his or her peers, and where everyone has an opportunity to choose their elected leader,” she said. “It’s an incredible privilege for which I am very grateful.”