Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard and his election opponent City Council President Rick Sharp have gone in different directions for running a campaign.
Brainard is sticking with 65-year-old Allan Sutherlin to run his sixth campaign for mayor, a familiar face that has assisted in every one of his elections. Sharp has decided to employ the assistance of Collin Corbett, 29, and his company Cor Strategies.
Corbett got his start working as a radio and television producer for not-for-profit organizations and was a director for live events throughout the Midwest. He founded his company in 2009 and it’s based in Palatine, Ill. He’s the founder of numerous political organizations in Chicagoland including the Lake County Young Republicans, the Palatine Township Republican Organization, and NXTgen Illinois.
While Sharp is “hands-on” and will perform many campaign duties himself, Corbett spoke to Current in Carmel about his role in helping get Sharp elected.
How did you come to get involved in the Rick Sharp campaign?
I have come out to Indiana a few times for some people events and I am a trainer for a leadership institute, so it’s from there I met Rick and we got to talking and we took it from there.
What makes Rick Sharp a unique candidate?
The unique balance he has between the community and government and the relationships he has with his constituents. He knows the budget and the ins and outs of every dollar spent. He understands that if you don’t move forward responsibly, that it could put your city at serious risk in the future and it’s a problem that a lot of other communities have faced.
Do you think he is the toughest candidate Mayor Brainard has faced?
Yes and I would venture to say that Brainard would agree, based on the activities of their campaign in recent months. They know it’s going to be a real campaign. Rick has shown that he knows how to raise money. He has a clear message and vision for the city and people are concerned about the issues that Rick has brought up in the campaign.
How do you go about unseating a five-term incumbent like Brainard?
It starts with informing the voters of the actual facts. The mayor has done a good job of pushing a narrative that makes him very popular. If you show the two individuals and their vision for Carmel, you see that Rick is a man who works collaboratively with others to plan a responsible future for the city. The other option is a ‘his way or the highway’ manner and frankly a reckless manner.
How do you show contrasts against an incumbent without going negative?
In our situation, we just frankly tell the truth. Rick has a lot of respect for the mayor. He likes a lot of the things that he’s done, but the issue again is can we move forward again in a responsible manner. Nobody wants to run a negative campaign. Rick has made that clear and I agree with him. But we can state the facts and let the voters know where Rick stands.
You work out of Illinois. How much do you know about Carmel?
My job isn’t the person who understands everything about Carmel. Rick has that knowledge. My job is to get the candidate elected and help him run the campaign. As an Illinois resident though, I can’t stop myself from being a little jealous of all of the things you have in Indiana. The more I learn about Carmel, the more I’m impressed. But I still haven’t forgiven you for beating my Bears in the Super Bowl.
Tell me a little about the company you founded.
I first got involved in politics around 2005, 2006. I started the company a little over five years ago. We’re one of the few firms that get really involved in local municipal elections but we do realize that all politics are local and we value that. But we’ve worked with national campaigns. We played a small role in the Romney presidential campaign. We helped the RNC with the convention.
Does your youthful energy give you an advantage?
Age is just a number. What matters most is who you surround yourself with. I’d be lying to say if I’m the person who gets Rick Sharp elected. I think Rick will do that himself and I have a great experienced staff that will help him achieve that victory.