As Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard prepares to step down from the elected role he’s held for more than 25 years, he expects his final 14 months in office to be as busy as ever.
In fact, deciding not to seek an eighth term will give him more time to work toward his goals for the city, he said.
“I’m going to be working hard to complete certain projects and get others off the ground,” Brainard said. “I’m going to be able to keep working and not have to worry about campaigning, so it’ll be a refreshing thing for me.”
Brainard made those remarks at his annual State of the City address, held Oct. 26 at Ritz Charles. The speech was made during a luncheon presented by OneZone, a chamber of commerce for Carmel and Fishers businesses.
During the half-hour speech, Brainard focused on how he’s worked through the years on “driving progress forward” by pursuing high-quality redevelopment projects, promoting national and international media coverage of the city and not being afraid to try something new, such as getting rid of most signalized intersections in the city.
“We talk a lot about driving in Carmel, mainly in circles, but it’s been bold ideas such as that, such as installing the world’s largest roundabout network, that has kept Carmel driving forward while other cities seem to be stuck,” he said.
The mayor also focused on the need for Carmel to continue its efforts to create a safe community that welcomes diversity.
“For communities to succeed, they must welcome everybody from every background, every faith, every race, every place of origin,” he said.
He also stressed the importance of civility.
“Many times today, if you disagree with someone, it’s criminal. They’re out to destroy the country,” Brainard said. “Why can’t we get back the idea that we’re all unique humans? We’re going to disagree on the best way forward, and then sit down and compromise those differences and remain friends and respectful of each other. We’ve been doing that in this city, and we need to continue to do that.”
Looking ahead, Brainard said redevelopment efforts will continue at a rapid pace, as the Carmel Redevelopment Commission is at various stages of discussions and partnerships with developers about projects that would invest more than $2 billion in the city.
Brainard said city leaders are working to add more outdoor recreational opportunities, especially during the winter months. The city also has begun discussions with consultants about the possibility of developing a public transit system to primarily serve the downtown and Midtown areas.
All of these efforts, and many others, are designed to make Carmel a city that residents and businesses want to call home.
“We don’t just want to be the best city in the Midwest or Indiana,” Brainard said. “We want to be the best city anywhere, and we’re well on our way to doing that.”