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CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) – All three mayoral incumbents in Hamilton County were successful in their primary bids Tuesday.

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard defeated City Council President Jim Sharp. The contest featured a debate over Carmel’s growing debt. Brainard has long contended that Carmel’s debt load remains at a manageable level. Sharp said the city was over-extended and could face having a special benefits tax triggered. Brianard won his sixth term in office.

He told 24-Hour News 8 he sees his victory as a vote of support for his vision for growth in Carmel.

He said he’d like to continue developing the downtown area and make road improvements.

Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear defeated challenger Mike Corbett in a rematch from the primary in 2011. The win will give Ditslear his fourth term in office.

Westfield Mayor Andy Cook held off Jeff Harpe. When Cook ran in 2011, he held off his challenger by less than 100 votes. The 2011 election was fought over the plans for Grand Park which was a key topic again in 2015. Cook won his third term in office.

Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness, who was elected in a special election last year, was uncontested in the primary.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP/WISH) – A couple Indianapolis polling places had late starts Tuesday morning as the primary election was underway.

Marion County election officials confirmed at least two polls opened late, but as of 7:20 a.m., all polls were up and running.

One viewer told 24-Hour News 8 he wouldn’t be able to cast his ballot Tuesday because of a delay in a poll opening.

Indianapolis is one of 115 Indiana cities where voters will head to the polls to vote in mayoral primaries to decide who moves on to November. Indianapolis will elect a new mayor and voters throughout the state will select who will lead their cities the next four years.

One of the more watched races is in Carmel, where five-term Mayor Jim Brainard is being challenged in the Republican primary by City Council President Rick Sharp in a race where debt is a key issue.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, both seeking second terms, face challengers in Democratic primaries.

In Indianapolis, four Republicans and two Democrats are vying to replace Republican Mayor Greg Ballard, who decided against seeking a third term.

Polls are open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday.

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.

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) – The battle for mayor in Carmel features two Republicans who have deep roots in the city.

Jim Brainard attempts to make a sixth run in office, while City Council President Rick Sharp hopes to replace him.

Sharp announced his bid for mayor in January following the growing speculation over the city’s rapid rate of redevelopment that could put property owners at risk of having special benefits tax levied.

An analyst told 24-Hour News 8 that Sharp entered the race at a significant financial disadvantage.

Brainard has long contended that Carmel’s debt load remains at a manageable level. He chalked the criticism up to politics.

The city has grown dramatically during the Brainard administration, and he’s proud to say those have been years of good management.

“Taxes are less today, for many home owners, than they were 20 years ago,” Brainard said. “What else can you say that about?”

Sharp said Carmel’s spending has over-extended the city. But the bills might not come due right away.

“He voted for almost all of the debt and all of the budgets up until recently and in the last year and a half has changed his votes,” Brainard said.

None the less both candidates have big plans for what is next for Carmel.

Brainard said he plans for more construction projects in downtown and road improvements on major city streets.

Sharp said he plans to bring new jobs to the city and to not neglect the older neighborhoods that could turn to blight with new projects.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – This week voters head to the polls for the May primary. The primary is on Tuesday.INDIANAPOLIS MAYORAL RACE

One of the biggest races will be for Indianapolis mayor. Mayor Greg Ballard is not seeking a third term, so several new names are on the ballot.

The Republicans have already endorsed Chuck Brewer as their candidate. Brewer is a business owner and former Marine. He owns the Potbelly’s Sandwich shop near Monument Circle. He’s never run for political office before, but believes his military and business experience make him qualified for the job.

There are several other Republicans also running, including Jocelyn-Tandy Adande, Terry Michael and Darrel Morris.

Those candidates are all vying for a chance to run against leading Democrat Joe Hogsett in November. The former US Attorney is running on his crime-fighting record. He recently announced his 2016 plan for a summer jobs program for teens, that would give young people an alternative to gangs or crime. The party endorsed him back in February and Hogsett has out-raised the other candidates. Larry Vaughn will also be on the ballot for the democrats.HAMILTON COUNTY MAYORAL RACES

Carmel voters will also decide on their next mayor. The race has been heating up over the past few weeks. Jim Brainard is trying to win his sixth term. City Council President Rick Sharp is challenging him.

There are no Democrats in the field, so whoever wins the primary will when the seat. The biggest issue in the race is the city’s debt. Sharp says Carmel is in far too much debt and needs a new spending plan while Brainard says the city’s debt is reasonable, considering all the development that has happened during his time in office.

Noblesville and Westfield will be voting for their mayors as well. Current Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear is running against challenger Mike Corbett. Both are Republicans. The mayoral race in Westfield also features two Republicans. Incumbent Andy Cook is facing off against Jeff Harpe. Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness, who was elected in a special election last year, is uncontested.SCHOOLS ASK FOR TAX HIKES

Meanwhile, several area schools are asking for tax hikes. Perry Township, Beech Grove, Brownsburg and Wayne Township are all seeking more tax dollars to pay for additional transportation or expansion plans.

To find your polling location click hereClick here for more issues on the Marion County ballot and here for Hamilton County.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Residents in 115 Indiana cities will head to the polls Tuesday to vote in mayoral primaries.

One of the most-watched races will be in Indianapolis, where voters will decide which candidates will vie to replace Mayor Greg Ballard. The Republican proved in 2007 that favorites don’t always win when he defeated incumbent Democrat Bart Peterson to become the first challenger in 40 years to unseat an Indianapolis mayor.

Residents in South Bend and Gary will decide whether Democratic mayors Pete Buttigieg and Karen Freeman-Wilson should advance to November.

Five-term Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard faces one of his biggest GOP primary challenges in the Indianapolis suburb. City Council President Rick Sharp has criticized Brainard over the city’s debt and tax breaks Brainard has approved for developers.

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — Next week, voters in Carmel will choose their next mayor. It could be long-time incumbent Jim Brainard. It could be his Republican primary challenger Rick Sharp. City debt is one of the big issues separating the two men.

Wednesday morning, Brainard released a report he calls “confirmation” that his financial plans for the city are working. It is a report for the Carmel Redevelopment Commission [CRC] that the city’s corporate tax revenues are increasing. It concludes Carmel will have $32 million more in assessed value than was projected last year. The report is an analysis of the TIF [Tax Increment Financing] districts in Carmel.

A statement from the Mayor’s office says this analysis “was prepared by an independent accounting firm, Umbaugh & Associates. The actual property tax records show the total TIF value of $1,113,000,000 which is higher than the projected $1,081,000,000 projected on May 29 of 2014 — a difference of $32 million. There are more than 700 properties in the TIF areas.”

The statement goes on to say “Our assessments are growing, our tax revenues will be growing and our property taxes will continue to be the lowest in Indiana for a city of our size or bigger … it’s good to see our fiscal plan is working.”

Rick Sharp released a statement declaring “(I)t would appear that the Mayor has unintentionally made our point on our behalf” about city debt. Sharp cited calculations from Wabash Scientific, a city planning consulting firm in Carmel. His conclusion hinges on a calculation of $17,524,082 in CRC debt obligations in 2014 compared to $19,162,421 in those debt obligations in 2015. The statement from Sharp said that creates a nearly $1.6 million increase in the TIF deficit.

The statement from Sharp also said, “(W)e note that, the Mayor’s press release never actually said there was enough TIF to repay CRC debt. Instead, he simply stated that [assessed value] growth was $32 million.” Sharp called that an attempt by Brainard to “deflect scrutiny” because the mayor “never actually said there was enough TIF to repay CRC debt.”

In a report on Tuesday, we discussed the role of the debt debate in the coming primary election.

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — The race for mayor of Carmel features two Republicans with deep roots in the city. The incumbent, Jim Brainard, is campaigning for his sixth term in office. City Council President Rick Sharp wants to replace him.

They have one thing in common. Both expect to work very hard between now and the closing of the polls on Tuesday, May 5. Sharp says it will be “non-stop, frenetic activity” between now and then – at campaign events and visiting voters at their homes.

“I passed the thousand front porch mark either Friday or Saturday,” he told 24-Hour News 8. That’s so many houses, he’s said it averages out to about three and a half minutes per door. It can be a little longer, if the voters want to “engage” about the issues.

“I think people are focusing a lot more on the concept of the debt,” he said. “And the fact that the current structure for handling that debt by this administration is to kick the can down the road 12 to 15 years.”

Mayor Brainard will tell you he has heard it all before. “Each election, for the last three elections, my opponents have said the same thing and each time we lower our tax rates and move on down the road and continue to manage the city in a way that most people like,” said Brainard.

An organization called the Constitutional Patriots has a campaign sign designed to challenge Brainard’s management. It says the city has $1 billion in debt.

Brainard says that calculation is wrong. “It is not a billion. It is not even a billion, if you count all the interest.” Brainard’s office puts the number at $590 million. And, Carmel’s debt payments “are only 15 percent of our annual revenue.”

A lot of that came from construction projects such as the Palladium and other new downtown buildings. Some of it came from spending on roads and bridges.

“Communities that invest in themselves are ones that succeed. We would not have that Double-A Plus Standard and Poor’s credit rating, if we had too much debt.”

Sharp claims the Brainard campaign is “cherry picking what they wish to call debt. We’re focusing on what adults would focus on – the true amount that the city owes today.” He says the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance has a report that lays it out in black and white.

Brainard said he is optimistic about his prospects for success and he has “a lot of ideas” for what a next term could bring for Carmel – from more construction, downtown, to road improvements on several busy city streets. There is still room to grow in Carmel. And, with the notoriety of Carmel, he says “we can really make some strides, I think, in getting good jobs to central Indiana.

Sharp has proposals for jobs and growth. “It’s great to build bright, new, shiny things,” he said. “But, if we let our older neighborhoods decline into blight, we’ve created a whole new redevelopment problem for ourselves.”

Part of the challenge for both men, now, is to make sure people not only know about the Primary, but get out and vote. Sharp says “I firmly believe that we have a bright future ahead of us. I firmly believe that we need to change our policies to assure that.” And that’s why he says “I’ve started telling people: the best insurance for Mayor Brainard’s legacy is to elect Rick Sharp as mayor.

Brainard says “I love my job of running the city.” So, he can’t wait until the campaign is over.

Click here to read I-Team 8’s previous investigation on debt in Carmel.

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) – A new $45 million project is on its way to Carmel.

Developers call it the first of its kind, and say it will lead to hundreds of new jobs. The goal is to connect two of Carmel’s most popular areas.

The new project will fill the space between the City Center to the south and Main Street – the Arts and Design District – to the north. Carmel hopes to create jobs by filling this space and in more residents and businesses.

“It’s largely abandoned industrial buildings. We launched the idea of redeveloping this area into a mixed use – live, work, play type development,” said Justin Moffett, with Old Town Design Group.

The development, called Midtown West, will house office space with 250 apartments and condos, anchored by a ground-floor business and a 550 space parking garage. Carmel’s mayor said the $45 million investment will be worth it.

“It’s going to pay off tremendously for us with the amount of private sector capital that’s now being invested,” said Mayor Jim Brainard.

Midtown West just a part of an even bigger project. Brainard said the whole Midtown project will create hundreds of construction jobs, plus potentially hundreds more as businesses move in and become established. The city announced the $150 million “Midtown East” last fall, and couldn’t keep up with the demand from businesses and families wanting to move in. .

“What we’re finding is that activity breeds activity. Last fall, we announced the $150 million project. It created this new project that didn’t exist last fall, and there’s probably more to come,” said Moffett.

Brainard said the new developments will draw in businesses and residents to the area.

“People can work, eat, live all in one area. Right on the trail ,which in Carmel is beach front property,” said Brainard.

The projects will sit on either side of the Monon Trail, creating a pedestrian-friendly downtown core.

“It’s a unique concept that really helps overcome the suburban aversion to condo living,” said Moffett.

Moffett said he’ll release the full plans for Midtown West in a few weeks, and construction should start before the end of the year. There’s no set end date yet, but the mayor hopes it will be finished in the next two to three years.

This might not be the last Midtown project. Another group owns the property just south of Midtown West. The city aims to eventually redevelop that area as well.

“It’ll make Carmel so much more competitive than even it is today,” said Brainard.

HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — The fallout from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is being felt in communities around the state. In Fishers, Mayor Scott Fadness issued a proclamation regarding the bill. In part it simply states the city is and always has been inclusive and proud of its diversity.

Fadness said Fishers aspires to be a “smart, vibrant and entrepreneurial” community and he wants to make sure those looking to locate there – be it a business or a new resident – know they are welcome.

Launch Fishers caters to entrepreneurs working on high potential, high impact companies – its 465 members represent about 275 companies. Founder John Wechsler said they rely on creative talent to build the companies that are launching. He’s already seeing fallout from RFRA.

“One company that we were talking to out of California that was looking to expand here emailed Sunday night and said it’s definitely put on hold until this whole thing is sorted out,” Wechsler said.

Fadness is fielding similar calls from businesses.

“That are questioning now is Indiana a good choice,” he said. “Is Fishers a good choice?”

He isn’t waiting for the discussion to play out on the state level, however – opting to issue a proclamation.

“In Fishers we want to send the message to our businesses and our residents that we’re open for business,” Fadness said. “We’re inclusive of everyone and we’re going to continue to further this entrepreneurial culture.”

A culture that’s fueling economic growth – growth City Council President Pete Peterson hopes doesn’t fall victim to RFRA.

“I’m a little bit worried that it may not continue at the pace we want it to just due to how this law is kind of being perceived out in the nation and certainly by the business climate,” Peterson said.

A climate that’s hampering the ability to draw the best, brightest and most creative for companies such as Sticks and Leaves – which builds mobile and web applications.

The challenge that we are facing now is how can we really recruit effectively the talent that we need to run our business,” said co-founder, Yaw Aning.

Fadness hopes the proclamation stems the tide.

“Where we’re trying to take our community, in terms of being vibrant and entrepreneurial, this type of distraction detracts from that attempt,” he said.

The proclamation will be signed by the Fishers City Council Wednesday morning at 8.

In Carmel, Mayor Jim Brainard said he’s made it clear from the beginning that the state and Carmel welcomes people from all backgrounds and all beliefs.

“One of Indiana’s strengths is always been that we are hospitable and we’re welcoming and this law does not express the way people are in Indiana,” he said. “And we need to fix that as quickly as possible.”

Brainard said the state is “shooting itself in the foot” and needs to “be smarter than that” and hopes the legislature does something soon to remedy the perception that Indiana isn’t about Hoosier Hospitality.

A similar view from Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear who said his city “welcomes all people regardless of religion, gender, sexual orientation, race, or ethnicity.”

“We work hard to have a warm and welcoming community that people are proud to call home,” Ditslear said. “We foster a culture of acceptance in Noblesville and the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act will not change that Noblesville is a great place to live, work and play.”

Westfield sent a statement to 24-Hour News 8 saying, “The city of Westfield has gained a national reputation as one of the best places to live, work and raise a family. We have made significant strides in creating an enviable quality of life and in competing in the global economy. Discrimination has no place in our community.”