James Brainard

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James Brainard
Climate Impacts in the Midwest Becoming More Resilient (cropped).jpg
5th Mayor of Carmel, Indiana
Assumed office
January 1, 1996
Preceded byTed Johnson
Personal details
Born1954 (age 64–65)
Bristol, Indiana
Political partyRepublican
ResidenceCarmel, Indiana
Alma materButler University
Claude Pettit College of Law
WebsiteOfficial website

James Brainard is the mayor of Carmel, Indiana, a principal city in the Indianapolis metropolitan area. Brainard, who first took office January 1, 1996, is currently serving his sixth consecutive four-year term, having won a term in the 2015 primary election that will end in 2019.[1][2] With his victory, Mayor Brainard is one of Indiana's longest serving mayors. He has led a city whose population has grown from 25,000 in 1996 to 100,000 in 2019. His keynote projects have been the creation of a new downtown called City Center, where a new 1,600-seat concert hall, the Palladium, opened in 2011, the redevelopment of the oldest part of town into a new Arts & Design District and building several more city parks and trails.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Raised in Bristol, Indiana, the son of Jack and Dortha, he was always interested in music. He considered majoring in it but since he wanted to go to law school, he chose to follow his parents to Butler University because of their history department's reputation. After graduating in 1976, he went on to the law school at Ohio Northern University. He was graduated in 1982.

Political views[edit]

Transportation policy[edit]

Brainard is frequently asked to speak around the world about city planning, redevelopment and roadway networks. Under his administration, the City of Carmel has eliminated dozens of traffic signals and dangerous intersections, replacing them with roundabouts. Carmel, with 122 roundabouts as of January, 2019 has more roundabouts than any other city in the United States.[4] The policy has resulted in a reduction of both carbon emissions and intersection accidents. Prior to his election, he guided the construction of the first roundabout in city limits at the corner of River Road and Main Street (currently the city's largest roundabout) in 1996 as part of private construction, and oversaw the first publicly funded roundabout's construction as mayor the following year at 126th Street and Hazel Dell Road.

Climate and energy[edit]

Brainard is a moderate Republican who has earned a national reputation for defending efforts to fight against the effects of climate change.[5] Brainard is serving as a Trustee and co-chair of the Energy Independence and Climate Protection Task Force for the U.S. Conference of Mayors. In November 2013 he was appointed to the Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience by the President of the United States. He traveled in 2015 to four cities in India to represent the United States as part of the US State Department's speaker's bureau. Also, in 2015 he was asked to speak on energy and climate policy at the German-American Centers in five German cities.[6] Additionally, he has been a guest lecturer for Georgetown University, Butler University, Indiana University and Purdue University among others. He often speaks to city councils and planning commissions across the United States about city design and development. Because of his views, Brainard "was tapped to be on President Obama's Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. He [also] won first place honors from the 2008 Mayor's Climate Protection Awards Program."[7] In 2013, it was announced he would be "one of 26 local government representatives who make up a new task force to help communities deal with the effects of climate change" [8]

Fiscal and health policy[edit]

Brainard is also a fiscal conservative who has invested millions of dollars in local redevelopment projects while keeping the city tax rate among the lowest among cities in the state of Indiana.[9] Because of Brainard's activity to create a health conscious community, Carmel has received various awards for its healthy living.[10]

Concerns have been raised in recent years about Brainard's handling of Carmel city finances. In 2015 the city over estimated tax revenues by over $5 million and was forced to reallocate funds between accounts to meet then current obligations. [11]. In 2017 S&P downgraded Carmel's long-term bond rating noting a $300 million increase in debt over the prior 3 years. In its analysis, S&P noted "In our view, this demonstrates the risk of high leverage and a heavy dependence on sometimes more volatile tax-increment revenues. We feel the city's crowded budget and high fixed costs leave it vulnerable to unanticipated economic or operational swings." [12]

Civil rights and diversity[edit]

In 2015, he proposed and the City Council passed a new ordinance to designed to protect human rights regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The issue was first raised in Carmel during the election campaign and came to its closure during a time of heightened awareness.[13] Brainard is a supporter of diversity in Carmel. He hosts an annual "Iftar" for the local Muslim community and established a new Carmel Interfaith Alliance in the fall of 2015 designed to bring together pastors and religious leaders from a variety of faiths.[14] Brainard has said, "When I study the history of our cities, I see that the most important advances take place when people of diverse backgrounds meet. Carmel's diversity brings a richness to the fabric of our community, and our freedom of religion should be celebrated."[15]


  • 2016 No. 1 Safest City to Raise a Child, by The SafeWise Report, which analyzed violent crime data from the most recent FBI Crime Report, along with sex offender populations, state graduation rates, and school rankings. They also looked for unique programs that were kid-friendly.[16]
  • 2016 Best Small Cities for Families in America, by NerdWallet. NerdWallet analyzed data on affordability, family-friendliness, growth and prosperity for 245 places and Carmel ranked fifth nationwide.[17]
  • 2015 No. 1 Best Cities in Indiana to Get a Job by Zippia, the career expert.[18]
  • 2013 International Making Cities Livable Joseph P. Riley Jr. Award "for his inspirational leadership in creating a vibrant, multi-functional heart for Carmel, IN."[19]
  • 2012 No. 1 Best Places to Live in America by CNN Money Magazine.[20]
  • 2012 American Council of Engineering Companies of Indiana (ACEC Indiana) Public Service Award [21]
  • 2011 Local Arts Leadership because of "Support the Arts fund, which mandates that one percent of the city's general fund support local arts organizations. What's more, the account is set up as a non-reverting fund. As such, any money not used at year's end is not lost but flows into next year's fund."[22]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "City of Carmel, IN : History". www.carmel.in.gov. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  2. ^ "Secretary of State : Election Division: Election Results". www.in.gov. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  3. ^ Schneider, Keith (1 July 2014). "Redevelopment of Carmel, Ind., Has a European Flair". Retrieved 3 May 2017 – via NYTimes.com.
  4. ^ "Carmel releases timeline for $229M of roadwork". indystar.com. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  5. ^ Commons, the urbanophile / Creative. "Q&A: In Indiana, fighting climate change by rethinking the suburb". Midwest Energy News. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  6. ^ "Brainard discusses climate change in India, Germany". indystar.com. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  7. ^ Yerman, Marcia G. (7 July 2014). "Republican Mayor Jim Brainard Believes in the Science of Climate Change". huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  8. ^ "Carmel Mayor James Brainard to help White House on climate change issues". indystar.com. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  9. ^ "Property Tax Rates by County: STATS Indiana". www.stats.indiana.edu. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  10. ^ "City of Carmel, IN : City Wide Awards". www.carmel.in.gov. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  11. ^ https://www.indystar.com/story/news/2015/12/09/carmel-go-broke/77002216/. Retrieved 4 April 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ https://www.indystar.com/story/news/local/hamilton-county/2017/11/16/citing-debt-s-p-downgrades-carmels-long-term-bond-rating/867120001/. Retrieved 4 April 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ Fischer, Jordan (6 October 2015). "Carmel City Council passes anti-discrimination ordinance in 4-3 vote". theindychannel.com. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  14. ^ "Carmel Interfaith Alliance organizes cleanup of Monon Trail". currentincarmel.com. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  15. ^ "Mayor hosts members of Muslim community". currentincarmel.com. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  16. ^ "The 30 Safest Cities to Raise a Child - 2016 - SafeWise". www.safewise.com. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  17. ^ "Affordable and Growing: Best Small Cities for Families - NerdWallet". nerdwallet.com. 2 August 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  18. ^ "These Are The 10 Best Cities In Indiana For Jobs According To Science". zippia.com. 27 May 2015. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  19. ^ "Mayor James Brainard, Carmel, IN awarded 2013 IMCL Joseph P. Riley Jr. Award - International Making Cities Livable". www.livablecities.org. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  20. ^ "Carmel ranked number one as Money Magazine's 'best places to live'". wthr.com. 20 August 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  21. ^ "Mayor James Brainard received 2012 Public Service Award". acecindiana.org. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  22. ^ "Mayor James Brainard (R - Carmel, IN)". americansforthearts.org. 31 December 1969. Retrieved 3 May 2017.