Carmel mayor candidates make last second push to secure votes

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) – The primary sets the stage for the November election, but there’s one race in particular that will ultimately decide who’s in charge of a Central Indiana city.

One the eve of the primary, Mayor Jim Brainard and his opponent Rick Sharp were both hard at work making that last second push to attract voters.

Whether that is with modern technology or an old school approach, the Republicans were making sure people pay a visit to the polls.

“Of course everybody’s a little nervous the night before an election,” said Mayor Brainard.

“I’ve had a small army volunteers who have been really so supportive and so helpful,” said Sharp.

But Monday night, Sharp marched through a neighborhood alone, knocking on doors to meet voters face to face.

It’s the style of campaigning he’s grown to love over his years of running for city councilman.

“It goes back to the days of canvassing in politics and I think it’s the only way you can really run certainly a local election like this,” he said.

Sharp estimates he’s visited 1,500 homes in the past six weeks. Most are people who he knows will vote for him, but not always. He was greeted at least three times today by people who said they planned to vote for Brainard.

Meanwhile on Main Street downtown, Brianard was using a similar method to make sure voters were in his corner. He spent time near the Monon Trail catching up with bicyclists and walkers.

“It’s absolutely critical to get out and talk to people, listen to people, find out what their dreams and aspirations and hopes are for their city,” he said.

But when it’s your sixth time running for the same seat, you deploy a few new tactics.

“When I first became mayor (about 20 years ago), very few people had email,” he said. “City Hall only had one or two computers for several hundred employees. It’s a very different world today. So we’re doing a lot of advertising on the internet, a lot of blasting of emails.”

Sharp used emails to get reach people as well and thanks to generous campaign donations got his name out there with more than just signs. “I had never raised more than $25,000 to run a campaign and didn’t spend that much. This time around I think when we total it all up, we’ll end up somewhere north of $175,000,” said Sharp. “So I was able to bring in professionals to plot the course of the campaign.” He said they also ran TV ads for the very first time.

Come Tuesday, it won’t be dollars but votes that will add up and give one of these men the chance to serve their community in a way only one person can.

“We’re focused on winning, and we’re going to be out tomorrow to make sure that happens,” said Brainard.

“Right now my optimism continues to build that the momentum is behind us,” said Sharp.

As far as the issues, Brainard and Sharp are divided over their city’s debt. It’s a billion dollars by some estimates.

Brainard said, in reality, it is about half that and it is reasonable. Sharp said Carmel must change its spending habits.

When it comes to city improvements, Brainard would like to see more development in downtown Carmel as well as more road improvements. Sharp wants growth along the U.S. 31 medical corridor in Carmel. He said he also wants to protect the city’s older neighborhoods.