Mayor Jim Brainard and challenger City Council President Rick Sharp battled it out at the Current in Carmel debate at the Ritz Charles. The questions I think showed a real contrast between the two candidates. The full article explaining the debate can be read here, but here’s a few other issues that were brought up and observations:
— Brainard had a binder full of notes while Sharp mostly spoke off the top of his head with the exception of a few times that he used notecards. Despite using notes, both candidates appeared comfortable and prepared. Although, Sharp did like to take a shot at his opponent for using notes, saying, “I’m sorry I don’t have prepared remarks on every topic.”
— When asked a question about whether the city should offer free public Wi-Fi, Sharp responded by talking about forms of economic development, talking about attracting medical companies to Carmel because of the U.S. 31 corridor. Brainard responded by saying Sharp didn’t answer the question and he paused for a large laugh — although to be fair the laughs came from his side of the room.
— When asked about the Carmel Redevelopment Commission, Brainard said he’s been proud of the financial management of the organization. “The recession has been tough but we’ve come out with flying colors,” Brainard said. He also noted that the city council gets to appoint members to the CRC and yet most decisions — except maybe one or two in several years — have been made unanimously. Sharp responded by saying, “If you don’t believe it’s a mayor led commission, I have some swamp land in Florida to sell you.” He also thinks that the CRC has borrowed so much money — without oversight of voters — that it has put Carmel on the edge of the financial cliff.
— Traffic congestion and how to deal with it was another heated topic. Sharp said, “You can’t cure rush hour.” He said he’s in favor of some roundabouts, but not everywhere. He said he’s not sold on a roundabout at 96th and Keystone and that the mayor has no plan to pay for it. Furthermore, he said traffic lights can be just as good given technological advances. He also thinks too much has been made about the 126th and Auman stop sign, which the mayor advocates removing. Brainard said, “First the stop sign at 126th and Auman doesn’t belong there … It just doesn’t make sense.” Brainard defended the roundabouts and said it’s important to remember how bad traffic used to be years ago. He said congestion at 96th and Keystone is bad for business and blames it for the Burger King going out of business there.
— Sharp and Brainard agreed on some topics. They both agreed that if a convention center were to be built in Carmel that it should be a partnership with a private company. They also both agreed that the mayor shouldn’t get involved in school board issues such as redistricting. They also agreed on Carmel’s path to possibly adding mass transit in the future.