In what was expected to be a tight battle, Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard easily defeated his challenger in the primary election Tuesday.
The five-term mayor beat Carmel City Council president Rick Sharp with 62 percent of the votes Tuesday in the Republican primary election.
Meanwhile, In other Hamilton County races, mayoral incumbents held onto their positions. Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear defeated Hamilton County Business Magazine publisher Mike Corbett with 58 percent of the vote. And Westfield Mayor Andy Cook won against Pike Township firefighter Jeff Harpe with 61 percent of the vote.
In Carmel, Brainard and Sharp had battled over the city’s debt throughout the campaign. Sharp warned voters throughout the election season that the debt nearly reaches $1 billion, when interest is included. Brainard has argued that only principal should be considered when discussing debt, and the city’s principal debt is around $550 million.
Voters showed their trust in Brainard’s evaluation of the city’s finances as several of the council members who didn’t see eye-to-eye with the mayor lost their seats.
In the central district, Bruce Kimball defeated incumbent Eric Seidensticker, who consistently warned of a tax increase in Carmel. Southeast district incumbent Luci Snyder, who unsuccessfully ran against Brainard in 2003 and is the longtime chairwoman of the council finance committee, was defeated by local TV show host and Carmel Redevelopment Commission member Jeff Worrell.
Republican Laura Campbell was unopposed in the northwest district seat that Sharp left vacant to run for mayor. She received 2,212 votes.
Carmel Clerk-Treasurer Diana Cordray, who has also sparred with Brainard in the past, lost in the Republican primary to Christine Pauley. Pauley, a senior contracts negotiator for Raytheon Co., was Cordray’s first opponent since 1995.
The only Brainard critic to survive the election was Carol Schleif in the southwest district. She defeated Keith Griffin with 56 percent of the vote.
In 2011, Brainard easily won against two opponents, but his council foes at the time – Sharp, Snyder and Seidensticker kept their seats.
Brainard was first elected mayor in 1995 with a plan to lower taxes, cut city expenses, improve road conditions and ramp up parks and recreation. And he accomplished those goals, for the most part. He’s largely responsible for two ambitious downtown projects — the Carmel City Center and the Arts & Design District, and he also pushed to build Hazel Dell Parkway as a four-lane thoroughfare, acquired land for the popular Monon Greenway and annexed portions of Clay Township to streamline city services and reduce taxes.
He is the city’s longest-serving mayor.
No Democrats filed to run in the general election in Carmel.