Three Republican candidates vying to become the mayor of Carmel tackled issues ranging from transportation, transparency and development during a mayoral debate that drew differing views.
The hourlong debate at the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts March 28 drew an estimated crowd of around 800 people to hear from candidates Sue Finkam, Fred Glynn and Kevin “Woody” Rider ahead of the May 2 primary election. The forum was moderated by Current in Carmel managing editor Ann Marie Shambaugh, who asked candidates a wide range of questions.
Finkam, a city councilor who has represented the city’s Northeast District for more than a decade, pointed to her experience as a business executive, wife and mom, noting that she has focused the majority of her career on helping businesses grow while navigating people. Finkam said she thinks that would be a benefit if she is elected as Carmel’s next mayor.
Glynn, a former Hamilton County councilor, also pointed to his experience in government and said he believes change is needed. Glynn ran for mayor in 2019 against incumbent Jim Brainard, who first took office in 1996 and ultimately decided against running for an eighth term.
“We are at a crossroads in our county,” Glynn said. “We need a leader that will bring new ideas (and) bring more responsible development.”
Rider, who is also a city councilor, also pointed to his vast experience and involvement in Carmel, including his 12 years on the city’s plan commission. He has been a resident of the city since 1983, he said.
“I like to get ingrained in the community,” he said. “I like giving back.”
All three candidates weighed in on topics such as development and how they would tackle related issues if elected mayor. Glynn said community input needs to be gathered moving forward, while Rider said he prefers to maintain the character of areas such as Old Town Carmel, noting that in his experience, when developments are filed with the city, the process goes too far before it gets to the council for consideration.
Finkam, Glynn and Rider were also questioned about whether their campaigns have accepted donations from developers or vendors that do business with the City of Carmel. While Glynn was the first to respond by saying his campaign hasn’t done so, Finkam accused Rider of threatening individuals regarding donations made to her campaign.
“Many, many professionals call us and say they get calls from Councilman Rider saying they will not do business with the City of Carmel if they donate to our campaign, period,” Finkam said. “We’ve also had people who’ve attended events of ours who have gotten calls the next day and gotten threats because they’d attended our campaign events.”
Rider did not directly respond to that allegation during the debate, but said that giving him campaign money buys no influence.
“Anyone who says otherwise, I’m going to keep my campaign on a positive note,” Rider said.
The candidates were also asked how they would improve transparency if elected. Glynn said community input would be necessary before developing large-scale projects, while Finkam said having an open-door policy would be a priority.
Finkam said it’s important to have “open, honest conversations” with people and proposed creating an arts commission, as well as a transportation advisory committee that would address transportation issues. Rider also advocated for transparency, saying he thinks people need better access to information.
All three candidates cited their experience in serving the public as to why they believe they would be the best choice to lead Carmel as its mayor. Finkam said her executive experience makes her a good fit for the role, adding that it would be “an honor of a lifetime” to be the city’s choice as the Republican nominee.
Rider cited his work as a business owner for more than 35 years, while Glynn pointed to his accomplishments.
“The most important thing is my record, and my record speaks for itself,” Glynn said.
The winner of the May 2 primary election will go on to face Democrat Miles Nelson in the November election.