The city’s debt, public-private partnerships and downtown redevelopment were among the topics discussed by incumbent Mayor Jim Brainard and challenger Hamilton County Councilor Fred Glynn during Current in Carmel’s April 16 Carmel mayoral debate at Ritz Charles.
At one point, Brainard pulled $10 out of his wallet and handed it to Glynn to make a point about property taxes. Glynn then called his daughter up to the stage to hand her the $10.
“It’s the children in this city who will be forced to pay for (Brainard’s) reckless spending,” Glynn said.
If re-elected, Brainard said he would continue with public-private partnerships and beautifying the city of Carmel. He also said he hopes to continue to focus on offering opportunities for families, more parks and trails and increased cultural opportunities.
“We are going to continue to do public-private partnerships to have one of the best downtowns anywhere in the world. We are going to have one of best qualities of life of any city anywhere. Because of that, we are going to be able to attract good jobs to Carmel,” he said.
Glynn countered Brainard’s statement by saying if he’s elected mayor, in 10 years he hopes the city is more fiscally sound than it is now.
“No end in sight, that’s what (Brainard) just said,” he said. “I would think for the next 10 years, we should enjoy what we have. Stop artificially inflating retail space that causes empty storefronts across our city. Bring businesses in organically.”
Questions also covered the lack of affordable housing in the area as well as how the men would bring a young, diverse workforce into the city.
Glynn highlighted the importance of having things for younger people to do in Carmel, as well as places for them to live.
“To attract those young people, we do need to have affordable housing for them to be able to live. The nightlife is part of it, the activities are part of it. They need to be able to afford it, they need to be able to come here,” Glynn said.
Brainard countered by saying the city already helps organize 53 events a year in Carmel, and the city has offerings for millennials as well as retirees. Brainard also said there’s already affordable options for people to live in Carmel, but that Carmel is more expensive than surrounding areas because the demand to live there is so high. For those who need affordable housing, Brainard said there are government programs out there to help.
Glynn said while campaigning, he spoke with residents living near Carmel High School who had other opinions.
“They feel they are being gentrified. I don’t feel that’s capitalistic. You’re trying to catch up your tax base with your debt with everything you do,” Glynn said. “If you get out of the business of doing that and having your preferred developers run your people out of town … He’s got dreams of turning Carmel into Manhattan.”
Both candidates also addressed Home Place and how they plan to address any lingering hard feelings from the recent annexation.
Brainard said when the annexation occurred, city staff and leaders visited Home Place and held a welcome celebration there. He said he would listen to what the people in Home Place want and collaborate to find a solution. Glynn said he would focus on improving infrastructure in the area, such as sidewalks and drainage.
In closing, Brainard said he hopes to build the most beautiful city anywhere.
“That’s going to attract companies, it’s going to attract people, and if we can attract the right people here, we get the best jobs,” he said. “We do need affordable housing, and we are working on that.”
During Glynn’s closing statements, he pledged that if elected, he would serve a maximum of three terms.
“If we re-elect my opponent, he will bulldoze any unique sense of identity and culture our community has left,” he said. “I pledge to be in office no more than three terms because 12 years is plenty and 24 years is way too long.”