CARMEL, Ind. — For the first time in nearly three decades, the city of Carmel is about to choose a new mayor.
Two candidates are busy in the homestretch of their campaigns with less than a month until Election Day.
On the ballot is Republican Sue Finkam – a city council member since 2012, and Democrat Miles Nelson – a current, one-term council member. FOX59/CBS4 asked both of them why they should be the next mayor of Carmel.
“I’m running for mayor because I want to build on Mayor Brainard’s legacy and keep Carmel moving forward,” Nelson said.
The candidates have that in common.
“I think my 30 years of building businesses and advocating for people marry very nicely for what Jim has done in building an incredible community here,” Finkam said.
Current Mayor Jim Brainard has served seven consecutive terms since he was first elected in 1995. During that time, Nelson said the world has become more competitive – so he’s focused his campaign on attracting more businesses and talent to Carmel, promising to keep taxes low for residents.
“Make sure that companies understand that this is a great place to build your headquarters, to move your headquarters, to start a business,” Nelson said.
Finkam said she’s emphasizing fiscal responsibility – reevaluating the way projects are approved to avoid overdevelopment.
“We need to make sure, very carefully, that any project we look at fits a community need and it is not in an area that’s going to provide too much traffic and change the quality of life,” Finkam said.
As Carmel’s population exploded during Brainard’s career, FOX59/CBS4 asked the candidates if they have any plans to bring more affordable housing options to the city.
“We have used moderate density to add multiple use product here,” Finkam said. “I see some of that continuing. Again, we want to be very careful in what we build here.”
“We will be focused on learning from peer cities around the country that have been grappling with this problem far longer than we have – and I’m going to be stealing the best ideas and bringing them home,” Nelson said.
One point of contention between the candidates has been a local chapter of a group called “Moms for Liberty” – which drew national attention after quoting Adolf Hitler on the cover of its newsletter this summer. During a debate last week, Nelson challenged Finkam to denounce the group and was met with silence. Finkam later called it a misdirection tactic.
“I have no affiliation with Moms for Liberty and have said multiple times publicly that I denounce the use of the Hitler quote,” Finkam said Thursday.
With the endorsement of Carmel’s Fraternal Order of Police lodge, Sue Finkam said if she’s elected, crime prevention will be a top priority. Miles Nelson said if he’s elected, he’ll prioritize supporting schools and increasing transparency with constituents.
Early voting is underway in Hamilton County. Voters can also go to their assigned polling locations on election day, Nov. 7.