For seven terms, Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard has overseen the city’s transition from a traditional suburb to a destination city with a new downtown and more roundabouts than any other U.S. community.
Now, he’s ready to step aside.
Brainard in September announced he will not seek an eighth term. His decision means the Hamilton County city will have its first new mayor in more than a quarter-century starting Jan. 1, 2024.
Brainard, 68, said leaving office had been on his mind for several months. He added that he is not retiring and plans to enter the private sector.
“I’ve often been asked to offer advice on matters of city design development, sustainability and livability, and I look forward to possibly helping other communities and business sectors learn from Carmel’s success,” he said.
Carmel has grown and changed tremendously during Brainard’s tenure.
The city’s population increased from about 30,000 residents in 1996 to more than 100,000, while Brainard oversaw the redevelopment of some of Carmel’s most prominent areas, including those that became the Arts & Design District, City Center
Carmel’s core now features shops and condos near the Monon Trail and the Center for the Performing Arts. The city is also home to more than 150 corporate headquarters.
Brainard, a Republican, might be best known for Carmel’s transition to a city with more than 130 roundabouts—more than any other city in the United States.
Brainard was first elected in 1995 when he successfully challenged Republican incumbent Ted Johnson. He’s faced a primary opponent in the Republican-heavy suburb in every subsequent election, but none came close to defeating him.
Brainard is Carmel’s longest-serving mayor. Current Carmel City Council President Kevin “Woody” Rider and City Councilor Sue Finkam have both announced they will run for the Republican nomination for mayor next year.•
Check out more year-in-review stories from 2022.