Letter: ‘Carter’ and ‘Reagan,’ thoughts on Sharp and Brainard



After receiving the latest mailing from Rick Sharp, I feel that, as a private citizen, I have to speak out.

I have served Carmel as its City Attorney for the past 18 years. During this time, I have worked with Mayor Jim Brainard on a daily basis. I have also had numerous opportunities to work with his mayoral opponent, Mr. Sharp, whose mailing prompted this letter. I believe that my time with these men has given me an opportunity to take the measure of both. Both are fine husbands, fathers, and sons, but after that they differ significantly.

Jim has the leadership mindset of a Ronald Reagan. He is optimistic and puts his faith in the people he serves. He is a tireless salesman for Carmel, traveling the country to encourage businesses to move here. As Mayor, Jim asked us to dream big, to imagine what it would be like to live in the best city in America, and then made our dreams come true. In less than two decades, he has created a Carmel where people want to live, work, and play. If you lived here prior to 1996, you remember the abandoned railroad line, the Keystone backups, the water rationing, and a downtown with a second-hand store as its anchor. It is impossible to say with a straight face that Carmel’s changes would have occurred under anyone other than Jim Brainard. Standard & Poor’s doesn’t give “AA+” ratings, Money magazine doesn’t give “Best City in America” awards, and Movoto doesn’t give “Safest Suburb in America” designations to everyone – but they gave them to our City. Truth be told, Carmel is more sound, secure, satisfied, and spectacular than it has been at any other time in our lives.

Rick has the leadership mindset of a Jimmy Carter. He is pessimistic and puts little faith in the people. He has become a tireless critic of Carmel’s investment in the future — of the very improvements that have allowed Carmel to successfully compete for good-paying businesses, residents, and tourists. Listening to Rick, it strikes me that he is, as was Carter, under the misimpression that we are suffering from a malaise. Incredibly, he attributes our imagined unhappiness to the Performing Arts Center, Monon Trail, Keystone Parkway, City Center, our public art, new sidewalks, and parks, the Monon Center, and to anything and everything else that is new and good in Carmel. I believe that Rick has seriously misjudged our community and its support for these and other Brainard-inspired public improvements. In my quarter-century as a Carmel resident, I have never seen our City more vibrant, engaged, and optimistic. Judging from his mailings, Rick just doesn’t get it.

This brings me back to Rick’s latest mailing. As you know, Rick’s campaign manager is from Chicago, where fear, lies, and character assassination are the political norm. Rick’s recent mailing reflects this norm. For example, the City’s debt paid from property taxes is about $10 per person per year, and it has a cash reserve of roughly $40 Million. How does the mailing attack this record of good fiscal management? Chicago-style. It simply imagines a debt scenario in which, immediately and simultaneously, all of Carmel’s TIF businesses close their doors and stop paying property tax, all of Westfield’s residents served by the City’s Utilities Department stop needing water, and all new business ventures cease for – wait for it — THE NEXT 20 YEARS! If you believe this tripe, you might also believe the mailing’s whispers of “taxes” and “recklessness”, that Indianapolis has less debt per capita than Carmel, and that certain unattributed and undated “news clips” represent reality [SPOILER ALERT: All untrue].

Instead of falling for these political shenanigans, I suggest that you notice what is missing from Rick’s mailing: a plan, a vision, and a record of accomplishment. Frankly, while this latest over-sized postcard calls Rick a “hawk,” it describes a Chicken Little who is running around yelling “the sky is falling.” Luckily, adults know that this is a children’s story, and that both the sky and Carmel are fine.

In closing, I am tired of this manufactured negativity about our great city. From where I stand, the obvious choice for Carmel mayor is Jim Brainard.  I encourage all citizens to vote on May 5.

Douglas C. Haney      


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