True to the Town
Robin Brandgard Exemplifies Community Service
Writer and Photographer / Stephanie Singh
It was the year Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington State, the Pac-Man video game was released, and the year John Lennon was shot and killed in New York. It was also the year Robin Brandgard would sit on the Town of Plainfield Town Council for the first time. In 1980, the Town of Plainfield population was recorded at 9,191 according to the United States Census Bureau. Today, the population is around 32,000 people.
“In 1980 my sons were five and two years old, and being involved with them was very important to me,” says Brandgard, who serves as the Town of Plainfield’s Town Council president. “I played an active role in their life, and seldom missed their sports or school events. I also knew I wanted to play an active role in my community. I expressed my interest in being on the council, and one day someone called and asked me to run.”
For 40 years, Brandgard has played an integral role in the development of Plainfield. In 11 elections, he has pulled in the highest numbers of votes against opponents – but he says that is not his greatest accomplishment.
“Helping to create the industrial park here in Plainfield has to be my greatest accomplishment from my tenure on the Town Council,” Brandgard says. “The industrial park laid the foundation for the tax base here in Plainfield. It helped keep taxes down, and allowed us to bring assets to this community that truly makes it the best place to live, work and play.”
The industrial park began to come to fruition in the 1990s – the same decade in which Brandgard was named Town Council president. It is a title he holds to this day.
“The Town of Plainfield is lucky to have Robin as the leader of this community,” says Kent McPhail, a Town Council member since 1998.
For 22 years, McPhail and Brandgard have sat together on the second and third Monday of every month. The rapport Brandgard has built with McPhail reflects the one he’s built with much of the community. It all starts at Starbucks on Main Street. Every day of the week, Brandgard holds office hours at the first table of the coffee shop.
“When I retired, I made a vow to myself to never change my schedule,” Brandgard says. “I may wake up a little bit later than I used to, but I still get to Starbucks early, grab the newspaper and invite all kinds of conversation.”
He encourages anyone who has concerns with town policies, projects or plans to grab a cup of coffee and talk with him.
“Good mornings quickly became good friendships,” Brandgard says.
The boards on which Brandgard serves have kept him youthful and witty. He has been a member of the Plainfield Plan Commission since 1980, and he is also a member of the Plainfield Lions Club, Hendricks County Economic Development Partnership, Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, Plainfield Masonic Lodge #653, and Scottish Rite Valley of Indianapolis.
Brandgard has a passion for community, and his calendar remains booked despite being retired. He retired from Allison Transmission in 2000. He attributes his professional success to his successful tenure on the council. In his job he worked alongside people every day and helped to manage projects – a process that is similar to his role on the Plainfield Town Council. He says the people he gets to work with are what makes year 41 as exciting as year one.
The Town of Plainfield has Brandgard’s fingerprints all over it.
“Robin is a visionary and loves to plan,” says Bill Kirchoff, the Town of Plainfield’s Town Council vice president. “I have worked with Robin on council for 20 years and I think having the continuity and the tenure from Robin has elevated Plainfield to where it is today. You have someone who creates a vision for the town and sees it through, instead of having someone new come in and shake up the plan.”
Brandgard’s passion and vision for the town are evident in his council goals, which include the following:
- Grow the tax base in order to keep taxes low and still provide the services required.
- Keep business, commercial and industrial areas separate from residential areas.
- Keep improving quality-of-life programs within the town, such as the park system, the path and greenways system, the recreation center and Splash Island.
- Keep politics and special interests out of decision-making for the town.
- Provide a proactive atmosphere for those having to do business with the town.
- Keep the small-town atmosphere, with citizens involved.
“When people thank me for the work done in Plainfield, I remind them I am just one of five,” Brandgard says. “I am proud of where Plainfield is today, and proud of the opportunity to make it what it is today.”
A 1961 Plainfield High School grad, Brandgard is Plainfield through and through. While he is not sure how long he will remain on the Town Council, he says he still loves what he does, and the community in which he serves. This chapter in Brandgard’s life, though one of the longest in the state, is not finished yet.
“This has been a very pleasant part of my life, being a town councilman,” he says.