Mayor Jim Brainard
City of Carmel, Indiana
Mayor Jim Brainard is Carmel’s first six-term mayor. During his terms in office, Carmel has
grown in population from 25,000 to almost 90,000. Parkland, greenspace and trails have
increased. The development of an Arts & Design District, a downtown called City Center and a
new Midtown project joining the two together, has helped in the creation of a vibrant, thriving
city where companies want to locate, where employees want to live and where families want to
raise their children. Mayor Brainard is frequently asked to speak around the world about city
planning, climate change, redevelopment and roadway networks.
Mayor Brainard spearheaded the redevelopment in the Old Town area of Carmel into an Arts &
Design District, which has transformed a much neglected original center of town into a thriving
district with galleries, restaurants, shops and community events attracting thousands of visitors
each year as well as the attention of the national and international media.
As part of the City Center project to create a downtown for Carmel, Mayor Brainard
incorporated world-class cultural and entertainment venues. The Center for the Performing Arts
in City Center includes the Palladium, a state-of-the-art, 1,600-seat concert hall, The Tarkington,
a 500-seat proscenium theater and the 200-seat Studio Theater. Mayor Brainard was also
successful in gaining the talent of Michael Feinstein as the Artistic Director for the Center as
well as integrating the Great American Songbook Foundation and Songbook Academy into the
cultural options at the Center. All of these venues, including an outdoor amphitheater named
Rotary Centennial Plaza, opened in 2011.
Mayor Brainard has encouraged the construction of roundabouts, which reduced accidents with
injury almost 80 percent at intersections when contrasted to signalized intersections. The City
now has more than 100 roundabout intersections, the most of any other city in the United States.
Carmel has been honored with many awards for its high quality of life and environmental
initiatives. Carmel is among Money magazine’s Best Places to Live in America - #3 in 2014 and
#1 in 2012 for cities with a population of 50,000 – 300,000. In 2015, Carmel was recognized as
Community of the Year by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. The City was awarded first place
in the Climate Protection Awards from the U.S. Conference of Mayors for its roundabout
program and national runner-up of the Home Depot Awards of Excellence in Community Trees.
Carmel has also been the recipient of the Sterling Tree City Award, honorable mention for
Municipal Excellence from the National League of Cities and has been designated a bronze level
Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists.
Based on surveys using community statistics, Carmel is consistently ranked among the top places
to live for families, singles, children, senior citizens and veterans based on low crime rates, low
cost of living, excellent schools, availability of high paying jobs and appreciation of community
amenities such as arts, culture, parks and recreational opportunities.
Mayor Brainard’s academic background includes a Bachelor of Arts in History from Butler
University and Doctor of Jurisprudence from Ohio Northern University. He also received a
diploma from the Oxford Institute on International and Comparative Law from the University of
San Diego. His book, entitled Carmel, ‘round about right, shares the story of redevelopment in
Carmel during his administration.
Mayor 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 of 2013, he was
appointed to the Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience by President Barack
Obama. In 2015, he traveled to four cities in India to represent the United States as part of the
U.S. 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. In 2016, he was asked to
speak on climate change and urban design in Rome, Italy at the Making Cities Livable
Conference. 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.
The Mayor has served as President of the Butler University Alumni Association, was included in
Butler’s “50 Under 50” in 2004 and has served as a Trustee of the university. He taught as an
adjunct instructor at the University of Indianapolis and was named one of the “Most Powerful
Hoosiers in the World” by Indianapolis Monthly. He is a member of St. Elizabeth Seton
Catholic Church and the Rotary Club of Carmel. He resides in Carmel and has four children:
Jack, a physician; Will, an attorney; Marie who is studying for a master’s degree in occupational
therapy and Martha who is a sophomore at Colby College in Maine.