Born in quaint Bristol, Indiana, Mayor James Brainard grew up only moments away from the Michigan border. His father was a band director at the nearby Elkhart schools, where Brainard attended. He dawned the French horn early in his schooling, and attended Butler University with hopes to play his instrument professionally. Butler’s robust performing arts program was its allure. College only served to augment Brainard’s fire for politics. Between less ostentatious employments, he served summer internships with the state Republican Party Chairman and a U.S. Representative. In fact, during his term as student-body president, Brainard got President Gerald Ford to make a surprise campaign stop in Indianapolis.
Upon graduation, Brainard studied law at Ohio Northern University. After, he returned to Indiana. He taught for several years in what is now the University of Indianapolis, and started his own law practice that focused heavily on real-estate transactions. It was upon returning and working in Indianapolis that Brainard met and wed Liz Hackl, daughter of Herff Jones executive A.J. Hackl.
Not long thereafter, Brainard, his wife, and their youthful family moved to a four bedroom home in Carmel. After spending time there with his family (eventually growing to four children), Brainard identified many opportunities for improvement in Carmel and assessed a shortcoming of Carmel leadership. He believed Carmel needed a mayor willing to get proactively involved in the city’s growth. He ran intending to do just that in 1995, and although he was a grave underdog, Brainard upset incumbent Ted Johnson.
This ushered Carmel into a new era. Carmel’s first four-term mayor, Brainard has experienced considerable growth and prosperity in his tenure. Since 2000, Carmel grew by 30.5 percent, which is fourth highest among all Indiana cities in that time.
Brainard is also renowned for his roundabout initiative, and TIME Magazine featured him for his foresight in this movement. In the video below, Mayor Brainard explains thought process behind these roundabouts.
Currently, as midterm elections approach in 2010, Brainard has joined Governor Mitch Daniels in supporting Charlie White for Indiana Secretary of State. Mayor Brainard recently hosted a Fundraising dinner in his Carmel home in support of this cause.