Jim Brainard, the six-term Republican mayor of Carmel, Indiana, has overseen the implementation of the city’s bike share program, invested in a geothermal sewer plant, and issued executive orders to increase the number of hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles in the city’s fleet. In a recent interview, Mayor Brainard commented that we “need to take action” on climate change and that he hopes the next president recognizes “there are huge business opportunities in producing the sort of products that will reduce air pollution and carbon.”
“When describing the tenets of being Republican, and of conservatism, a lot of it is about being willing to take personal responsibility for your actions and your choices,” said Brainard, who bikes to work. “There seems to have been a willingness to forgo that and not take responsibility for the way our use of fossil fuels will affect future generations.” As mayor, he has looked toward building more traffic easing measures such as roundabouts as a solution to congestion over new roads. Carmel is opening its 100th roundabout later this year.
“We can move four to five times as much traffic through a roundabout, and it can be beautiful. With each roundabout, we save about two million gallons of gasoline each year from cars not having to stall. More important, it’s about safety: We’ve seen a 90 percent reduction in fatalities, an 80 percent reduction in injury accidents and a 40 percent reduction in total accidents. Slower speeds are safer, and yet they still move more traffic,” according to the mayor.
Brainard noted his form of environmentalism follows the tradition of former presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Richard Nixon and is rooted in fiscal responsibility.
“Somebody has to make the windmills, come up with new technology, the hydro-plants. We may make things in China and other places, but the technology is developed here. Let’s make new products the rest of the world wants,” he said. “I haven’t yet met a Republican or Democrat who wants to drink dirty water or breathe dirty air.”