Brittney Burns – Staff Writer
While the Highlands seats for mayor and two commissioners seats will be uncontested with only the incumbents filing for office, Franklin’s town council will see some competition this November.
The only seat uncontested in Franklin was that of the mayor, held by Bob Scott. Mayor Scott will now be elected to his third term in November, making this the second time he has run unopposed for reelection.
“I was pleased that I am running unopposed,” said Mayor Scott. “This will allow me not to have to worry about campaigning and I can spend that time working on several projects I would like to see accomplished. Some things I plan to work with the town council and town staff will be what to do with the Whitmire Property, legislative actions affecting the town, downtown parking and traffic, reviewing ordinances to see which ones we need and which ones no longer apply. Also, I am interested in town beautification and projects which make Franklin the wonderful town that it is.”
Six people filed for the three open seats on the Franklin Town Council. David B. Culpepper, Angela Moore, James “Jimbo” Ledford, Greg Raby, and incumbents Barbara McRae, and Billy Mashburn filed for the Town Council elections. Council member Patti Abel will not be seeking re-election, leaving her seat up for grabs. Both McRae and Mashburn will run to retain their seat.
McRae said she is hoping to be elected to a second term to have the opportunity to finish projects she started over the last four years.
“My top goal is to do everything possible to further the River District concept – including improvements in the Nikwasi Mound area, through our partners in the Nikwasi Initiative,” said McRae. “I’m also interested in some historic preservation projects (particularly Ray’s Chapel), sidewalk upgrades, economic development, and implementation of the bike/ped plan. Another area that concerns me is housing. I’m pleased that we’ve seen progress in providing good housing opportunities for low-income families; I think there’s also a need for middle-income housing that would appeal to young professional couples or singles, and want to explore ways the town could help with that.”
Council member Billy Mashburn did not return an email request for comment.
The four new names on the ballot this November have different visions and a hope for change for the office.
“The reason I decided to run was I want to be the voice of the working class people,” said Greg Raby. “I am also interested in seeing Franklin expand as a whole not just tourism but also industry and small business and with that, the town’s infrastructure has to grow also.”
Both David Culpepper and Jimbo Ledford have made themselves known over the past year or so, attending town meetings and speaking on various subjects ranging from the restoration project at the Franklin Memorial Park to the development of the Whitmire Property. Rather than just be voices heard during public comment period, Ledford and Culpepper both want a chance to effect change within the town.
“I decided to get involved in local politics because of the deep appreciation that I have for this town and for the multitude of friends and family that I have made here,” said Ledford. “I wasn’t born in Franklin but my family’s story in America started here and fate has brought me back. The town of Franklin and this community has treated me like family since day one. I have always believed in giving back to those that give to me and have done so through various town activities including Pumpkinfest, the Christmas parade, Halloween in the Park, and through donating to local races and charities through my company, Jimbo’s Plumbing. On a personal level I have enjoyed coaching my children and interacting with the community and its children through coaching and attending local sporting activities. I have also participated in various local clean ups, and believe in helping the less fortunate any time that I can. The more I have learned about politics, especially on the local level, the more I see and believe that I actually can be more involved, and help affect the entire community in a positive way. And when I had finally exhausted every excuse not to run for town council, I saw that Culpepper was and figured heck, they’ll let anybody do it, why not me?,” he joked.
If elected, Ledford hopes to move Franklin forward in a progressive manner.
“As a member of the Franklin town council I would hope to help the town continue in the direction that it is going,” said Ledford. “I believe that Franklin is finding itself and I want to help this community be a place we can all be proud to call home. I see and feel that there are some great people in crucial roles right now and I hope to help the town to move in the forward direction that it is going. I would continue to be a friend to every member of the community without prejudice, offering a neutral viewpoint and treating each person and situation with an open mind.”
Culpepper said that he wants to serve the town he was born in and build on Franklin’s momentum.
“I was born at Angel Hospital and grew up here. I lived away for 10 years and I’ve been around the world. Franklin is my home, this is where I want to be, this is where I begin to make the world a better place. I only have the ability to impact things within my circle of influence, which is limited to say the least, and positive changes can and will be seen by surrounding people, communities and municipalities and can ultimately lead to positive change regionally and statewide. Being the change I want to see in the world, that’s what I want to do, that’s what I hope to accomplish.”
Culpepper said that if elected, he will be more than an elected official that sits behind a podium once a month and makes arbitrary decisions for the town, but rather, lead by example.
“Statesmen lead by example and precept,” he said. “I’ve grown weary of the false dichotomy of partisanship politics. I propose to use honest thoughtful discourse and always apply a hefty dose of logic and reason to the job of councilman. Ultimately, decisions should make sense, they should be explainable to constituents. I have a penchant for asking lots of questions seeking discovery of how a situation can be improved. I find that too many folks get discouraged by a ‘no’ answer and give up a
worthy goal. I find excitement and joy in overcoming opposition and obstacles to find mutually beneficial results. I have certain ideologies, but there should be very few sacred cows in governing, no off limit questions, no untouchable subjects and certainly no budget item exempt from critical review. I’m a unwavering cheerleader for the town of Franklin, an advocate to speak up and speak out in advancement of our town.”
Angela Moore has run for town council several times over the last few years, and wants the chance once again to be a voice for the people.
“I am running for Town Council because I have a vision for reform,” said Moore. “Much like our founding fathers, I want to cut taxes, promote open government, restore private property rights, and stand by equal enforcement of the law. As it is, our rights and our finances are being eroded one board meeting at a time. Our officials pass new rules, take on more debt, and build new buildings regardless of their need or cost. Taxes, water fees, and sewer fees have all been increasing at an alarming rate. This is largely due to poor money management, spending on special interests, and debt services taken on to pay for extravagant building projects. Adding to the problem, many rules are sporadically enforced leaving citizens to wonder if their neighbors are well connected or if the town just doesn’t care. If a law is not fair it should be rescinded, but if it is on the books it should be enforced equitably among all land owners. I will represent the voice of individual freedoms and market place economics.”
The municipal elections will take place on Nov. 7.