The Carmel City Council is set to introduce a resolution at its May 16 meeting that would begin procedures for removing Councilor Bruce Kimball from office.
Kimball, 69, who has represented the Central District since 2016, hasn’t attended a council meeting since suffering a stroke in December 2020. His term runs through 2023.
City Councilor Sue Finkam, a sponsor of the resolution, said she has emailed Kimball for an update on his recovery and possible timeline for returning to the council but has not received a response.
“I was willing to give him at least a year (to recover),” Finkam said. “My emails have never been returned. I’ve seen no engagement with him and the council, so, in the absence of any type of response, it’s clear that he’s not ready, willing or able to lead at this time. It’s sad and I’m sorry for that, but the Central District deserves a voting member.”
Kimball did not respond to Current’s requests for comment as of press time, but his family issued a statement May 10.
“Bruce is currently in a rehab hospital due to additional health issues. He is working hard to recover from the massive stroke he suffered in December 2020. He is not available to comment and not aware of the council agenda,” the statement reads. “This will be heartbreaking for him as returning to serve his community has been a driving motivation.”
Finkam said Kimball’s absence has been especially noteworthy in recent weeks as nearly $55 million in tax increment financing bonds have been proposed to support four mixed-use developments in the Central District.
“This is not an easy decision to bring this forward. I wish we did not have to do it, but the Central District is our most active district, with hundreds of millions of dollars coming through regularly,” she said. “I believe residents deserve a voice.”
Cindy Babcock, who lives in the Central District near one of the proposed mixed-use projects, said she is thankful for at-large Councilor Tim Hannon taking time to meet with residents of her neighborhood, but she would like to see a new councilor put in place to directly represent the Central District “as soon as possible.”
“The continued development is going to keep taking place around us,” she said. “We are still going to have concerns, we are still going to have a voice in everything that’s happening, but we don’t have a vote.”
Barry Good, who has lived in the Central District for 18 years, said he doesn’t understand why the council hasn’t taken action to address the issue before now.
“We don’t know who to go to with our problems,” Good said. “We can go to an at-large council person, but we can’t put pressure on our own guy. It’s a disadvantage. We’re up against a powerful city council, as well as government, so as people we just have our little voices, that’s all.”
In December 2021, the council approved an ordinance outlining steps for removing a councilor from office, but at the time councilors said they hoped it would never have to be used. The ordinance states that the council has the authority to expel any of its members for violation of official duty or declare the seat vacant if a council member is unable to perform the duties of office.
If the council approves the proposed resolution, the city attorney’s office will draft a bill of impeachment. The council will conduct a special meeting no more than 20 days after the bill is filed to receive evidence and vote on vacating Kimball’s seat. Two-thirds of the council must vote for removal for it to occur.
Hannon, who has been working with the other two at-large councilors to address concerns in the Central District, said it is “past time” to begin the process of vacating Kimball’s seat.
“I feel badly about Mr. Kimball and hope he recovers from his medical issues, but the bigger issue is the equity and fairness for more than 17,000 people in the Central District that haven’t had direct council representation for a year and a half now,” Hannon said. “If we don’t take any action, or the action is that we’re going to continue to have this (district) basically unmanned, it’s another year and a half of the Central District not having direct representation.”
If the seat is vacated, the Hamilton County Republican Party will hold a caucus to select Kimball’s replacement.