Carmel City Councilor Bruce Kimball, who has not attended a public meeting since suffering a stroke in December 2020, is set to remain on the council through the end of his term, which runs through the end of 2023.
The city council on May 15 voted 4-4 on a resolution to initiate the process for vacating his seat. A tie vote results in the motion failing.
Councilors Sue Finkam, Laura Campbell, Tony Green and Tim Hannon voted in favor of the resolution, with councilors Kevin Rider, Adam Aasen, Miles Nelson and Jeff Worrell voting against it.
Nelson, who said he’s met with Kimball regularly during his recovery, said he would prefer voters in the Central District select their next representative through the 2023 election rather than allow a Republican caucus to make the decision.
He also said compassion played into his vote, as vacating the seat would end Kimball’s city-provided insurance coverage in a time of need.
“What about someone who has had a seismic health issue or a catastrophic accident? Do we remove them from office without providing any sort of support or safety net?” he said. “Perhaps policy needs to be created to provide disability coverage during one’s term should something like this occur again. It seems unconscionable to cut off someone’s much-needed care.”
Green, who joined the council as a result of a Republican caucus after a former councilor moved out of the city, compared Kimball’s absence to a “breach of contract” elected officials have to represent the voters that elected them.
“Bruce has not represented anybody for 18 months, and more than likely, from what everyone’s heard and been told, he’s not going to be coming back in the next 12 to 18 months,” Green said.
Before the vote, several Carmel residents shared their thoughts on the ordinance to vacate Kimball’s seat. Their opinions were split, too, although most encouraged councilors to approve the ordinance.
Central District resident Bradley Carrico said he hopes Kimball makes a full recovery in enough time to run for election in 2023, but believes he and his neighbors deserve direct representation before then.
“It’s very unfortunate (we) do not have somebody we can go to directly and expect to hear our voices heard,” Carrico said.
Steve Ring, who also lives in the Central District, said he did not support vacating Kimball’s seat.
“I have not felt a lack of representation on the city council over the past months,” he said. “I tend to think of the city council as one body, and I appreciate the fact that I feel I can bring any comment or question to any member of the city council.”