One-stop voting for both the Highlands and Franklin Municipal Elections began today, Thursday, Oct. 14, and will run until Friday, Oct. 30. Residents that live within the Franklin or Highlands city limits will be able to cast their votes during the early voting period or on Election Day scheduled for Nov. 2.
Four town council members seats are up for reelection — however only three will be decided by the election. The top three vote-getters in the Franklin election will secure the three seats on the ballot. The fourth seat will ultimately be filled by an appointee of the duly elected Franklin Town Council.
In last week’s Macon County News, JimBo Ledford, David Culpepper and Frances Seay provided a bio and answered questions pertaining to the future of the town of Franklin. Following are the responsoes of the remaining candidates running for town council, Rita Salain, and Stacy Guffey.
Salain is a Franklin native who grew up within the town limits. After graduating from Franklin High, Salain attended Appalachian State University and graduated from the University of South Carolina. She lived in both South Carolina and in Decatur, Ga. She retired in 2018 and moved home to Franklin in March 2020.
“My husband and I have owned property in Macon County for more than 20 years and a house here for the past 15,” said Salain. “When we moved back home full time, we bought a house right in town and we love it.”
Salain is a hobby potter and loves the Cowee Pottery School located at Cowee School. She is a reader and has belonged to a book club for the past 35 years and now belongs to two “excellent” book clubs in Franklin. She is a volunteer with Mainspring Conservation Trust and loves the work they do to help people conserve their land while still using it, and helping farmers keep their farm land as farm land.
Salain’s career was focused in public health, working for 10 years in both the State Health Department in Georgia and in South Carolina. For 20 years, she owned and managed her own consulting practice, working all over the United States, but primarily in the South’s rural communities with a focus on rural health, primary care and maternal and child health; building, developing and evaluating systems of care and improving access to care. Clients included nonprofit organizations, hospitals, health associations, primary care practices, community groups and state public health offices.
“I am running because I love this place and its people,” said Salain. “Franklin is rich with good people, natural beauty and hard workers. I would like to help Franklin capitalize on our many assets, including our cultural history. I think I can make positive contributions. I am not afraid of learning, researching and working hard. I do my homework. And, I know individuals and small groups of people working together can make a big difference. As Margaret Mead, noted anthropologist, said, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’ I want to work with others committed to seeing Franklin grow in positive, healthy ways, while protecting the beauty and the very special aspects of this place that make it home. I salute all those who have worked hard to keep this town unique and beautiful through the years. I want to help too.”
What do you view as being the greatest
issue facing the Town?
“There are many issues facing Franklin,” said Salain. “I’m unsure of what the greatest issue is but I want to work on attracting more, good paying jobs and growing our businesses so they can hire more people; attracting (and keeping) young people living in town; working to increase the supply of affordable housing; keeping the town safe; helping the town welcome new residents and help them become part of the town; helping build or expand affordable, quality child care for young families.”
What would be your top three priorities
for the Town if elected?
“Working to increase assets that make Franklin, a great place to live, work and visit,” said Salain. “Helping small businesses grow and thrive throughout the town. Implementing approved priority plans that meet identified town needs, including cleaning up abandoned houses and vehicles, building more sidewalks and paths and making the town more beautiful and livable.”
Stacy Guffey is a Macon County native who’s grown into leadership in business and public life in the region his family has called home for generations. A graduate of Franklin High and Western Carolina University, Guffey served as Macon County’s planner from 2004 to 2009. He helped establish and run the Cowee School Arts and Heritage Center, where he serves as the part-time director, and founded a consultancy practice to help with economic development and planning projects throughout Western North Carolina. In 2018, to further his expertise in government policymaking, Guffey earned a Masters in Public Administration degree from the University of North Carolina while taking on a new role in downtown Franklin’s preservation efforts with the purchase and rehabilitation of the 1897 building that contains the Scottish Tartans Museum, where he lives in an upstairs apartment.
“I believe, over two decades of education and work in my home region, I’ve prepared for the privilege to work with my neighbors, fellow business owners, and local and regional leaders to make sure we position ourselves to realize our best hopes for our town both now and in the generations to follow,” said Guffey. “Town Council is the level of government closest to and most accessible to the voters and, because it’s non partisan, it’s somewhat immune to the divisiveness that grips most other levels of government these days. I’m looking forward to serving in a position where we can directly affect the future of our town.”
What do you view as being the greatest issue facing the Town?
“Growth will be the biggest issue facing the town in the next few years,” said Guffey. “Our task is to deal with that growth in a way that benefits our local workers and business owners while at the same time protecting and enhancing the small town feel that makes Franklin unique.”
What would be your top three priorities for the Town if elected?
“We should help our local small businesses thrive and prosper,” said Guffey. “There are a lot of tools available to local governments to support small businesses from incentives, buy local programs, to inclusive zoning regulations among others. We need to look for ways to alleviate the housing shortage, especially for our local workers. For example, we should make sure that our zoning code allows for a variety of housing types and encourages more housing density where infrastructure is already in place. We should continue to develop and grow our relationships with the county, the tribe, local nonprofits, and business and community groups to enhance the areas that make Franklin unique like our historic downtown, the Nikwasi area, the greenway, west Franklin and others. That will improve the quality of life and quality of life is what drives our local economy and it’s what makes Franklin the best place to live.”