Foundation builder: Carmel’s first two-term mayor reflects on key events that helped shape city’s future


As Carmel residents prepare to welcome their first new mayor since 1996, the city’s only other mayor to serve more than one term is nearing a milestone of her own.

Jane Reiman, a Republican who served as mayor from 1980-1987, will celebrate her 90th birthday on Feb. 9. Since leaving office at age 55, she’s worked at a child care center, spent 15 years in Corydon to help care for her grandchildren and returned to Carmel to work part-time for the city and as an ambassador at Woodland Terrace senior living community.

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Carmel Mayor Jane Reiman, second from left, attends a ceremony for the opening of Carmel Drive in 1986. (Photos courtesy of the Carmel Clay Historical Society)

“I just think this is an amazing city, and I really give the credit to Mayor (Jim) Brainard,” Reiman said.

Brainard credits Reiman with laying some of the foundation for the development and growth that has occurred during his time in office. He said she played a key role as he stepped into the mayor’s office – his first elected role – after defeating incumbent Mayor Ted Johnson.

“She had worked for my predecessor, and she was the one in that administration who reached out to do everything she could to help make certain there was a smooth transition and that our department heads – and particularly me – knew as much as we could about various issues that we were going to have to deal with very quickly,” said Brainard, who moved to Carmel near the end of Reiman’s time in office. “She cared a lot about the community, and that was obvious.”

A native of Toronto, Canada, Reiman moved to the U.S. in her early 20s to work at the University of Michigan’s dental school. She didn’t plan to remain in the states permanently, but that changed after she married an American and had two daughters. In the late 1960s, her now ex-husband’s job brought them to Carmel, where they moved into one of the first homes built in the Woodland Springs neighborhood.

That’s where she was living when a member of the town board asked if she’d consider running for an at-large position on the first city council, which would be created in 1976 as Carmel grew and transitioned its form of government. She won, and during her term she helped lead an effort to block a pari-mutuel racetrack proposed at the existing Kohl’s site north of 146th Street, a success that eventually led to her mayoral bid.

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Carmel Mayor Jane Reiman near the fountain at Civic Square in 1987, soon after the fountain was installed.

During her time as mayor, Reiman worked to update much of Carmel’s infrastructure and began planning Civic Square, which is now home to City Hall and the headquarters for the Carmel police and fire departments.

One of her proudest accomplishments, however, occurred during her first weeks in office, when she learned that Keystone Parkway – then a two-lane road – was set to be widened and lined with businesses, a continuation of its look in Indianapolis. She said she reached out to Indianapolis Mayor Bill Hudnut and asked him to rescind his administration’s role in the project, returning the future of the roadway into Carmel’s control.

“I showed pictures of all that lovely wooded area and houses (along Keystone Parkway) and the golf course on the other side,” Reiman said. “I said, ‘Your plans would be to have taken at least a block of that on either side.’ It would’ve ruined Woodland Springs, too.”

Hudnut relented, and Keystone Parkway has remained a largely untouched corridor through residential areas.

Reiman, who lives in an apartment in central Carmel, still appreciates the view when she drives along Keystone Parkway. Although she’s no longer working, she remains active in her church and engaged in local happenings and politics.

She said she is amazed with Brainard’s longevity in office, and she plans to support Carmel City Councilor Kevin “Woody” Rider in his bid to become the city’s next mayor. But no matter who is elected to the city’s top office this year, Reiman is ready to be a resource and share what she learned in the role.

“One thing I did was I always hired people smarter than myself, because you don’t know anything about being a mayor before you’re a mayor,” she said. “There’s no book on it.”

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Carmel Mayor Jane Reiman and pro golfer Arnold Palmer, who served as the grand marshall of a 1987 parade celebrating the city’s sesquicentennial.

Words of wisdom

Jane Reiman, who served as Carmel’s mayor from 1980 to 1987, offered several words of wisdom for the city’s next leader.

  • “Don’t just meet the employees when you are elected. Get on the elevator and get to know everybody’s name. Go through offices and say, ‘Good morning. How are you?’”
  • “Leave your office door open, and people can come up and ask your secretary if they could talk to you. Be available.”
  • “Get to know the press. That’s terribly important. Sometimes they know more than you do, and they’ll share.”
  • “It’s really hard to make friends when you’ve been mayor. People think you’re something important. It’s strange.”
  • “Always remember that the citizens of Carmel pay your wage.”