Vote fails to declare Carmel City Council member’s seat vacant

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Carmel City Council member Bruce Kimball will remain in office after a vote failed Monday night on a resolution to begin the process of declaring his seat vacant.

The council split a 4-4 vote on the resolution that was sponsored by Councilors Sue Finkham, Laura Campbell and Tim Hannon. Councilor Tony Green joined them in voting for the resolution.

Councilors Adam Aasen, Miles Nelson, Kevin Rider and Jeff Worrell voted against it.

Kimball, who represents Carmel’s Central District, was elected in 2019. Council members noted he last attended a council meeting in December 2020 before he suffered a stroke. Kimball’s term on the council runs through 2024.

Nelson said Kimball continues to receive inpatient care at Community Rehabilitation Hospital. He argued the council should show their fellow member compassion as he attempts to regain his health.

“I understand that the resolution we previously passed discussed how to remove a councilor from office who wasn’t performing their job,” Nelson said. “But 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?”

Councilors in favor of the resolution said the Central District has gone too long without direct representation. Kimball’s district includes much of the city’s downtown area.

“I know Bruce’s circumstances are horrible, but Bruce has not represented anybody for 18 months, and more than likely from what everyone’s heard and Councilor Nelson talking about his medical health, he’s not going to be coming back in the next 12 to 18 months,” Green said.

The Carmel City Council in December passed an ordinance that adopted a procedure for declaring a seat vacant of a member who is unable to perform his or her duties. The ordinance requires a resolution, a bill of impeachment and a two-thirds supermajority vote to remove a member.

The Hamilton County Republican Party would have held a caucus to select a new member had Kimball’s seat been vacated.

Correction: Carmel City Councilor Tim Hannon’s last name was misspelled in a previous version of this story. You can see other corrections here.

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15 thoughts on “Vote fails to declare Carmel City Council member’s seat vacant

  1. Compassion’s got nothing to do with it! That’s a purely political move.

    Remove him and let the voters decide if he should be re-elected next term.

  2. It’s shocking that the City Council wouldn’t have some kind of operating agreement that outlines the process when someone becomes unable or nearly unable to perform their job due to health issues?!

    1. I should clarify it’s not an operating agreement but verbiage in our city code that outlines how this process works – aligns with state code that says how municipalities have to handle these situations.

    2. Sue, I mean written language that describes what situation qualified someone for removal due to medical reasons, not just bringing it up for a vote to most likely non-medical professionals to make judgment on someone’s medical status. If there’s a situation that’s not covered in the written verbiage then perhaps a vote of the council seems fair.

  3. He might be the greatest guy in the world, but if he cannot do his job as a councilor he should step aside. It’s not fair to the district or the council itself.

    1. Agree! Seems odd to me that someone with this very unfortunate health circumstance doesn’t do the right thing for his constituents and resign. I get that it might provide motivation for his recovery but given the information above it doesn’t seem likely he’ll be able to return in a capacity to do his sworn duties. Maybe he’s getting “coaching” from others that he should not resign because the area is being “represented” appropriately.

  4. There is nothing in State Law that allows a city council to remove an elected official from office who has medical problem such as a stroke . He was elected by the people now other elected officials think they can remove him? I do not like Bruce’s politics but he was elected according to the laws of our State. Kangaroo councilman now they think they are the law and think they can remove him. Carmel politics is out of control and it is more than Jim Brainard. In any case, I hope Bruce recovers and can enjoy his life.

  5. Sue F post does not allow a reply so here is my response to her. Please cite the State of Indiana Statute number that allows an elected to be removed by office because they have incurred a medical problem like a stroke. Non performance because of a medical issue is a lot different than not performing period. Likewise cite where the removal can be done by the same elected body they sitting on.

    1. IC 36-4-6-6 Power to expel member or declare seat vacant; rules
      Sec. 6. The legislative body may: (2) declare the seat of any member vacant if the member is unable to perform the duties of the member’s office.

      It is interesting that he has been able to move on his divorce recently, but he hasn’t been able to give any clarity to the taxpayers and colleagues on the council about his abilities to perform.

  6. As a resident of the central district, this is very disappointing. We deserve representation just like the rest of our Carmel neighbors.

  7. Sue brought up some good points last night pointing out leaving Bruce on Council creates a second class of city employee. A city employee, which Council members are, has to make a decision at 6 months whether to go on Long Term Disability or termination. Bruce chose not to subscribe to LTD. It was also mentioned by Nelson that Bruce can’t afford his treatment without his city supplied health insurance due to Medicare coverage shortfall. Because of his financial issues 4 Councilors chose to keep Bruce on the city payroll and insurance. Now why would any city employee opt to enroll in LTD if they can just stay on with salary and city insurance and not show up when ill? Or are City Councilors special? And the citizens will be without their local representative for 3 years.

    1. Would you want to be kicked to the curb due to a medical situation? Bruce was also an elected official, not hired employee.

      I think its disgusting that this is even a conversation. Bring in a temporary representative (unsure of that process) and let Bruce get better without this stress. He has done plenty for this City, well beyond the Central District.