Salain, Guffey new town board members

Rita Salain

Brittney Lofthouse Contributing Writer

Stacy Guffey

A fraction of the registered voters within the Franklin city limits cast ballots in the 2021 municipal election, with less than 400 voters showing up to the polls despite more than 2,000 voters being registered. For the Highlands and Franklin municipal election combined, only 23.38 percent of registered voters — 886 of 3,789 — cast ballots to decide the next leaders of each municipality. More voters cast ballots in the Highlands race than did so in Franklin, even though Franklin has more than double the registered voters. 

Jack Horton, who ran unopposed for the Franklin Mayor seat, was elected with 321 votes. The seat also received 22 write-in candidate votes. 

Town voters were able to select three out of five candidates for the Franklin Town Board seats. Newcomer Rita Salain was the top vote-getter with 268 votes. Incumbent David Culpepper was re-elected to another term with 265 votes and tied with Stacy Guffey — securing Guffey’s seat on the Franklin board. 

Although not elected to the board, candidate Frances Seay received 193 votes followed by JimBo Ledford with 81 votes. 

Because Horton, who currently serves on the town board, was elected as mayor, his seat will now become vacant. The new Franklin board, which will be sworn into office in December, will be responsible for appointing someone to finish out the remainder of Horton’s term on the board. 

Just under 500 voters cast ballots for the Highlands municipal elections, which amounts to around 50% of eligible voters. While about 900 residents are registered to vote in Highlands, 490 cast ballots for the November Municipal election, which is actually a higher turnout rate than in years past. 

Incumbent Mayor Pat Taylor was re-elected after receiving 343 votes to challenger Marc Hehn’s 145 votes. Hehn, who currently sits on the Highlands Town Commission, will be able to retain his seat on the town board as a commissioner. Two write-in candidates also appeared this election cycle. In large part, Highlands voters took advantage of early voting which gained 296 of the 490 total votes cast. 185 voters cast ballots on Election Day, which concluded at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 2. The town of Highlands also received seven absentee ballots.

Highlands Town Commissioner incumbent Amy Patterson was re-elected along with former board member Eric Pierson with an overwhelming majority of votes. Voters were allowed to cast ballots for two of six candidates on the Highlands Board of Commissioners, with the top two vote-getters being elected to the board. Patterson garnered 261 votes and Pierson finished with 238 votes. 

While not elected to the board, challenger Thomas Craig received 139 votes, Pat Allen received 128 votes, Mary Bynum received 91 votes and Nicolaus McCall received 40 votes, and one write-in candidate for the town board was recorded. 

Candidates will be sworn in ahead of the December board meeting.