Incumbent Republican Teresa Ayers is facing a challenge from Democrat Courtney Culver for the North Central District seat on the Carmel City Council.
Ayers has served on the council since January, when a Hamilton County Republican Party caucus selected her to fill the position vacated by Bruce Kimball, who died in late 2022. Culver has not previously held elected office.
Ayers has lived in Carmel 40 years and works as an outreach representative in the office of Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita. Culver has lived in Carmel 11 years and is a senior director at Salesforce.
What are your top three campaign issues?
- Responsible growth
- Conservative fiscal policy to maintain low taxes
- Prioritizing public safety
- Community safety in Carmel relies on investments in fire and police departments to accommodate the city’s growth. Prioritizing infrastructure and financial readiness for future population expansion is crucial for resident protection.
- Advocacy for all is a city councilor’s duty. I will actively engage residents and businesses, seeking their opinions and concerns.
- Fiscal responsibility and transparency ensure responsible budgeting for economic safety and growth while promoting transparent fiscal policies.
What are Carmel’s greatest strengths? Where do you see areas of improvement?
Ayers: Carmel is a wonderful community to live, work and play. The city has grown rapidly, and we must ensure we continue to maintain the safety of the city. I believe safety should be a top priority. Providing the necessary equipment and staff for our police and fire department should always come first.
Culver: Carmel’s greatest strengths are its vibrant walkable and bikeable city center, our fantastic public school system, our strong public safety agencies and the abundance of local businesses and organizations. This combination enhances our residents’ well-being through social connectivity, environmental sustainability and strong property values. I believe the city can improve in allocating its funds more equitably across the entire city – not just in the city center.
How would you describe Carmel’s financial health?
Ayers: I believe when debt is used wisely and managed properly, the city can benefit. Carmel’s debt is approximately $1.5 billion. This means debt is $17,000 for every man, woman and child living in Carmel. With an impending recession, Carmel should focus on paying down our debt and improving our credit rating.
Culver: The city currently manages a responsible level of debt; however, it’s important that we do not accumulate additional debt to maintain fiscal preparedness for future uncertainties and opportunities. Balancing existing commitments while safeguarding financial flexibility is essential for sustainable progress.
What should be the city’s role in supporting its senior citizens?
Ayers: This must be a top priority. Our senior citizens have helped grow Carmel into what it is today. We must provide the amenities and care they need and deserve, including ease of access into city buildings, available/dependable transportation and an activity center(s) where they have a say in what will benefit them and their needs. We must also focus on affordable senior housing so they can stay in the community they contributed to for so many years.
Culver: The city’s responsibility in supporting senior citizens is to create an inclusive, accessible and supportive environment that enables them to actively participate in the community. It’s important to protect and create affordable housing options, provide relevant social programming and offer reliable transportation options.
How do you determine if a proposed development or redevelopment project in Carmel is something you would support?
Ayers: Throughout my campaign I have walked in many of our beautiful well-established neighborhoods. The constant theme throughout this experience was that the residents love their neighborhoods and the city. However, there is concern regarding the constant increase in development and density. It is vital to maintain the greenspace we currently have and expand on it where we are able. Greenspace is important in our community and should always be a priority when deciding on new development and redevelopment.
Culver: I would first need to understand at least the following about the project to make a decision:
– The current state of the city’s budget (at that time)
– The current occupancy rate of Carmel’s residential and commercial developments
– The impacts of the development on our city’s traffic and public safety agencies
– If residential, what percentage of the space would be saved for affordable housing (or at least non-luxury)?
– Can our public schools sustain the potential growth in population?
-What are the environmental impacts?
-Will greenspace, trees, wildlife be eliminated or displaced?
– How do the area residents feel about the development?
What do you most want voters to know about you?
Ayers: I grew up in Carmel and am proud to call this community my home. I was raised to value honesty and the importance of hard work. I am honored to currently serve as the North Central city councilor, and I am proud to represent and support our citizens and the community we live in. I welcome the residents of my district to contact me anytime with any questions or concerns.
Culver: I am a qualified, collaborative professional with over two decades of experience in leading global teams and managing multi-year large projects and budgets. I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism/marketing and a master’s degree in organizational leadership. I hope to leverage my professional experience and talents in serving the Carmel community as the North Central District’s next city councilor. In such an important time in our city, I ask for your vote in November.
How can voters learn more about you?
Ayers: Ayers4Carmel.com or on Facebook at Ayers For Carmel