Election Day is nearing. On May 5, people will get to make their choice for mayor, clerk-treasurer and city council. Voters get to choose for their respectively city council district and two of the three candidates running for city council at-large.
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard is running for his sixth term against opponent Rick Sharp.
And interesting enough, this is only a primary, not the general election. Carmel has off-year elections so these primaries don’t coincide with congressional, gubernatorial or senate elections.
But since Democrats almost never run in Carmel’s municipal elections, the GOP primary has essentially become the actual election. Most years there isn’t even a fall election because no democrats decide to run, so why hold one?
In fact, one candidate for Carmel City Council – who wished to remain anonymous – told Current in Carmel that he didn’t consider himself a Republican or a Democrat. He just runs in the Republican primary because that’s what you do in Carmel to get elected.
And while all of the candidates might be running as Republicans, that doesn’t mean there’s just one party.
There appears to be two camps that have formed in this election: pro-Brainard and anti-Brainard.
This might seem obvious to anyone to follows politics in Carmel, but when it comes to election time I try to remind myself that it’s important to try to explain the political landscape for all potential voters in our city, even those who don’t rabidly follow the doings of our elected officials.
Brainard has been mayor for nearly 20 years so obviously candidates have strong opinions about his decisions and leadership style.
You can interview each candidate and try to determine which side they are on. You can can analyze the votes of the incumbents and ask Brainard and Sharp their thoughts on each candidate. But there’s been an even easier way to clearly differentiate both sides without question: look at the yard signs.
Brainard opened up a campaign headquarters on Range Line Road near Earth Fare and it’s not just where Brainard campaign volunteers can gather and pick up yard signs. It’s also an unofficial headquarters for Brainard-friendly candidates. Clerk-treasurer candidate Christine Pauley and council candidates Ron Carter, Bruce Kimball, Jeff Worrell and Kevin “Woody” Rider were all present at Brainard’s campaign open house. Keith Griffin has also been seen campaigning with the mayor and Sue Finkam has strongly voiced her support for Brainard.
Laura Campbell, who is running unopposed, has somewhat stayed out of taking sides in the mayoral election.
Brainard confirmed his headquarters support in an interview with Current in Carmel and said he’s happy to help out candidates who share his views on governing.
On the other side of things, Sharp said he’s not “anti-Brainard” but that he’s running “for-Carmel.”
“I’m not running on any ticket with any other candidates,” Sharp said.
Although yard signs see groupings of candidates you won’t find at Brainard’s campaign headquarters, such as Eric Seidensticker, Carol Schleif and Ron Houck for council, Diana Cordray for clerk-treasurer and Rick Sharp for mayor. At a recent Constitutional Patriots candidate meet and greet, you would find all of those candidates as well as Luci Snyder and representatives for John Accetturo.
In fact, the Constitutional Patriots, a local group that shares beliefs with the Tea Party, released its list of local candidates that they endorse and it includes: Rick Sharp, Diana Cordray, John Accetturo, Ron Houck, Carol Schleif, Eric Seidensticker and Luci Snyder.
This support from the Constitutional Patriots – which has confirmed to Current in Carmel that they are a Tea Party group – has become an election issue for those who support Brainard.
City Councilor Ron Carter, who supports Brainard and opposes Sharp as mayor, took aim at the group on his Facebook page when he wrote: “Just got back from the Mayoral Debate sponsored by the Star. The only memorable thing about the evening was that Sharp’s T-Party base of supporters was out in force to cheer him on. That’s concerning. If you don’t want that philosophy running Carmel in the future you need to get registered and you need to vote on May 5th.”
This led to a response from the Tea Party of Hamilton County:
Mr. Ron Carter:
I previously voted for you as an at-large candidate. Apparently I made a mistake in doing so based on what you wrote. I am concerned about your comment on Facebook (4/1/15) which states:
‘Just got back from the Mayoral Debate sponsored by the Star. The only memorable thing about the evening was that Sharp’s T-Party base of supporters was out in force to cheer him on. That’s concerning. If you don’t want that philosophy running Carmel in the future you need to get registered and you need to vote on May 5th.’
I am a member of the Tea Party of Hamilton County.
Our Mission Statement: The mission of the Tea Party of Hamilton County is to restore limited government, fiscal responsibility, and accountable representation through citizen activism and education, in order to preserve the Constitution of the United States of America.
Will you explain which part of our mission statement you disagree? Will you further explain your comment ‘…If you don’t want that philosophy running Carmel in the future…’
Our members make the choice as to whom they wish to vote. Our Tea Party does not endorse candidates. However, we do educate them on legislation, current events, local, state and national issues, etc.
I would appreciate hearing from you regarding the above.
No matter what side you are on, it appears sides have formed for the May election.