For two decades, Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard has led the city, but during that time, the city has been without a deputy mayor.
Noblesville, Fishers, Westfield and Indianapolis all have deputy mayors. Carmel may join that list in the next year or so.
“When I ran in 1995, I criticized the fact that a city of 29,000 had a deputy mayor, and so when I was elected, we did away with it,” Brainard said. “Now that we are pushing 100,000 people, we might look at it again. And there might be some proposed changes in this year’s salary ordinance.”
Brainard said further information could be available at a later date if the city makes that decision.
A deputy mayor is second-ranking official in many municipal governments. Sometimes it’s elected, but often it’s a position appointed by the mayor to serve as a chief operating officer or administrative leader. The deputy mayor often serves as acting mayor in the mayor’s absence.
Some cities, such as New York City, have multiple deputy mayors for different focus areas. In other cities, a deputy mayor, sometimes called a vice mayor, is a member of the city or town council.
Although Carmel doesn’t have a deputy mayor, Brainard has a number of high-ranking officials he’s called on to serve in his absence in the past. The president of the Carmel City Council, currently Ron Carter, a longtime political ally of Brainard, will step in for press conferences or important meetings when the mayor has other business or is out of town.
Past council presidents, who often butted heads with Brainard and even ran against him for mayor, were not always asked to be his replacement at events. Brainard has also often called on Nancy Heck, director of community relations and economic development, to fill in for him for public forums or speaking engagements when he is unable to attend. If it’s a meeting on a specific issue, Brainard will often rely on his department heads if he’s unable to attend.