Town Council candidates give qualifications, reasons for running

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photo by Vickie Carpenter

Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer

Early voting for the Franklin Municipal Election kicked off yesterday (Wednesday) and for the first time in recent memory, voters have a wave of new candidates to consider for office. There are four seats on the ballot this election, three of which are currently held by Joe Collins, Brandon McMahan, and Adam Kimsey. Kimsey is not seeking re-election. The fourth seat, the unexpired term held by Dinah Mashburn is also up for re-election, but did not receive any challengers.  Four candidates had responded to inquiries by press time: Peter Mosco, Mike Lewis, Jack Horton and Dinah Mashburn.

Peter Mosco

Why are you running? 

 

 

Peter Moscoe

“I am running because I have been civil- and community-minded my entire career as a business owner, elected official and civil servant,” said Mosco. “As a full time town resident of 14 years and recently semi-retired, I now have the time to dedicate myself to the people of Franklin.”

What is your background/qualifications?

“For the past 29 years, I have held many positions in government as an elected official, in community service clubs and organizations. That has given me insight, temperament and experience to be a viable addition to Franklin Town Board,” said Mosco. “My former experience as a rehabilitation specialist,  an elected official as a Village Trustee (council member for two, four-year terms), I was part of overseeing a $9 million operating taxation budget with 50-plus employees; along with a career as a building and zoning official and a building contractor for over 25 years, has given me the tools and experience it takes to lead in this community. Some of my former positions and accomplishments in government, community and private sector are: Building contractor over 36 years; rehabilitation specialist administration of the HUD Home Improvement Program for community residence; Section 8 HUD Housing Inspector;  capital projects manager for local streets, downtown and park improvements, sewer grant projects; Procurement,  Renovation and Restoration of the Patchogue [Long Island, N.Y.] Performing Arts Theater & Grant writing;  Commissioner of Patchogue Village Planning & Zoning board of appeals;  Commissioner of Patchogue Village Building & Zoning Department Building; and Zoning Official for the Town of Brookhaven.  As an elected official, I was instrumental and responsible and part of the team for the revitalization of a dying downtown, Riverfront and Housing Stock of the Village of Patchogue. We turned a dying downtown into a vibrant community full of new businesses, shops and restaurants using the new performing arts center as the anchor for all that would come. Best 7.2 million bond dollars ever spent in a municipality and still growing. Past President of Rotary International / Paul Harris fellow/ Gift of life national program. Past vice president Italian American club of Long Island, Mmany community projects,  past NYS delegate to the International Building Codes Council.”

Mosco currently serves on the planning and zoning board of appeals for the town, a position he has held since January 2013. He is a licensed realtor/broker and member of the Carolina Smokies Association of Realtors for the past 14 years. He is a local professional Luthier and string instrument restoration and repair technician and has been married to his wife, Adrienne, for 41 years. He is a local musician, playing at Pickin’ on the Square and the Folk Festival and also serves as the vice president of the Franklin Chapter of the South Eastern Bluegrass Association. 

What are the most important issues facing Franklin?

“Infrastructure, job development, affordable housing, promoting industry and fiscal responsibility,” said Mosco. And as to how to address those issues, he said, “Smart growth and forward thinking on planning and land use including: 

– Grant writing for federal and state level funds for capital  projects.

– Work with county government on community projects together.

– Expand on developing our surrounding peripheral areas to bring job creation to stimulate new businesses into the town and the county.

– Seek assistance from federal and state economic development agencies

 – Develop our downtown River District in an ecological and economical way.

 – Scrutinize the prepared annual budget.  Hold the line on unnecessary spending.

    Work to get quality Internet access to grow business development. What makes you the most qualified candidate?

“First and foremost, I have the utmost respect and appreciation for Franklin and Macon County history and support its preservation and cultural history,” said Mosco. “I want to see Franklin continue to grow in the right direction. That means smart planning and fiscal responsibility to the taxpayer. I have experience with municipal budgets and want to hold the line on spending as well.”

Is there anything else you’d like the voters to know?

“I believe the Riverfront can be developed to encourage smart growth,” said Mosco. “It would be an asset to promote jobs and affordable housing for our younger population to keep them here. I think that the town should seek to do some of that development on its own to encourage growth and opportunities.”

Mike Lewis

Why are you running? 

Mike Lewis

“It’s not something I entered into lightly,” said Lewis. “Running is a decision that’s involved a lot of thought, inflection and prayer. I’m running because I know I have the vision and good judgement to help guide Franklin into the future.”

What is your background/qualifications?

“I was born and raised in Macon County, graduating from Franklin High School in 1988,” said Lewis. “Later in life, after working in the private sector, I earned a bachelor’s degree from Western Carolina University in 2003 in political science. I’m married to Jennifer Moffitt Lewis, also a native of Macon County. We have three children – Zach Tallent, 22, Coleman Tallent, 20, and Finley Lewis, 13. After graduating from WCU in 2003, I went to work for The Franklin Press – first as a reporter and then as news editor. After 12 years at The Press, I went to work for the Macon County Sheriff’s Office where I remain as a civilian employee.”

What are the most important issues facing Franklin?

“We need to continue to maintain and improve our infrastructure, ensure that our police and

firefighters have the resources and equipment they need to keep our town safe and continue efforts to make Franklin a place where both our current residents and newcomers alike can enjoy a quality of life based on our cultural, historical and natural resources,” said Lewis. “All of those things are important to attracting new businesses and new residents. People looking to relocate their businesses or homes here want to know that the town can satisfy the needs of their business or that the neighborhood they are moving into is safe. Infrastructure not only includes water and sewer, but our sidewalks, streets and other facilities. While any local government in North Carolina is very limited by what it can do to attract new business via incentives, there are other ways to make Franklin attractive to newcomers. Continuing to make Franklin an inviting place through festivals and promoting our cultural, historical and natural resources will continue to be a key part of achieving that goal. Infrastructure will always be a key concern, as it is the lifeblood of any municipality. But past that, revitalizing areas of town that are in need of revitalization is certainly a big issue. The town is in the process of having a study performed for a comprehensive plan that has taken in a lot of public input. It will be interesting to see what that plan – devised with input from the public – will look like.”

What makes you the most qualified candidate?

“I have been in and around local government for the last 16 years – the first 12 years as a journalist and the last four years as an employee of the sheriff’s office,” said Lewis. “I’ve seen town and county government firsthand – as both an observer and a participant. My political science studies concentrated on American governmental institutions. I know how government func tions, particularly our local county government and our municipality. I know the people involved – those in elected office and those in the administrative arena, and I have good relationships with them. I’ll work hard for the people of Franklin. 

Is there anything else you’d like the voters to know?

“Electing me to Town Council means you’ll have a voice at the council table, and that you’ll have someone who makes decisions in a balanced, thoughtful and measured manner,” said Lewis. “This town is my home, and I want to do all I can to make sure it continues to be a place to raise your kids, start a business or chase your dreams-whatever your dreams may be.”

Jack Horton 

Why are you running?

Jack Horton

“I believe in  “Public Service in the Public Interest”  and I have a strong and sincere desire to make a positive contribution to my community based on the experience and the knowledge I have gained in my years of public service,” said Horton. “Providing responsible and responsive leadership is the key to success as we make decisions that will affect the future of Franklin. After serving in local government for over 36 years both at county and municipal level, I feel my knowledge and expertise equips me to be ready on day one.”

What is your background/qualifications?

 Horton is a veteran of the United States Navy and is retired from serving as the County Manager for Macon County. He is married to his wife Lydia of 42 years and they have two children and three grandchildren. Horton is an accrue member of Cowee Baptist Church.

Horton received his Bachelors and Masters Degrees from Appalachian State University. Horton began his career in public service in 1978 by serving as the first appointed County Manager in Swain County. He worked in Swain until 1981 and then accepted a position as Town Manager in Huntersville, N.C., from 1983-1985. Horton’s first stint as Macon County’s manager was from 1985-1991. He then went on to serve as the first appointed County Manager in Haywood County from 1991-2006 and Caldwell County Manager from 2006-2008 before returning to Macon County to finish out his career from 2008-2013. 

Horton is a member of the International City and County Managers Association (ICMA), ICMA Credentialed Manager, Member- North Carolina City/ County Managers Association (Senior Advisor), and Past Chairman – W.N.C. City/ County Managers Association.

What are the most important issues facing Franklin?

 “1. Making sure our infrastructure meets the current and future needs of our community. 2. Our business districts must be vibrant, attractive, and ready to accommodate a growing  economy. 3. Our citizens and visitors deserve the very best public services that we can reasonably afford to provide in order to  make the quality of life in Franklin second to none.

 “Establishing or re-establishing a high level of confidence and trust that our local leaders listen to our concerns and act in a well thought out responsible manner that insures the best interests of our citizens are addressed promptly and successfully. Effective communication is absolutely essential if we are to achieve our common goals.”

What makes you the most qualified candidate?

 “I am a retired city/county manager with over 36 years experience in local government,” said Horton. “I hold both an undergraduate and Masters Degree with emphasis in local government administration. I have prepared and managed numerous multi-million dollar local government budgets; I have managed many major capital improvement projects including water and sewer, building construction projects, and various economic development projects. I have a working knowledge of what it takes to successfully manage a local government, excellent relationships with other government leaders and agencies not only at the local level but also at the state and national level.”

Is there anything else you’d like the voters to know?

 “I truly believe that public service is a high calling, and we must be aware of the need to find ways to work together for the benefit of all,” said Horton. “If I am fortunate enough to be elected as one of your Franklin Town Council Members, I will do my best to uphold the ideals of responsible and responsive public service in the interest of the public we serve. To quote the legendary coach of the UCLA Bruins basketball team, John Wooden, ‘Isn’t it amazing how much can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit?’  Let’s work together.” 

Dinah Mashburn 

Dinah Mashburn

Mashburn is the only candidate for the unexpired two-year term on the ballot. 

“I was appointed to the town council in January 2018, to fill the vacancy left by the death of my husband, Billy Mashburn,” said Mashburn. “I was appointed to fill his seat until the next election, and I would like to serve out the remaining two years

of the term that Billy was re-elected to in November 2017. I also have a great love for Franklin and I would like to continue to give back to my hometown.”

Mashburn is a native and lifelong resident of Franklin. She is the daughter of Gerald Roper and the late Shelba Jean Burnette Roper. She and her late husband have two children, Jenna Mashburn and Justin Setser.

“I am a 1976 graduate of Franklin High School, and I have a AAS degree in Business

Administration from Southwestern Community College,” said Mashburn. “I retired from the Macon County Clerk of Court office with 30 years of service, and I have also served on various community boards over the years.”

What are the most important issues facing Franklin?

Mashburn stated that her top three priorities for the town if elected are infrastructure, and more specifically, ensuring a continued water supply for growth in our area, and attracting new jobs and industry and creating available and affordable housing.

“The town council can’t solve the issues of new jobs and industry or available and affordable housing, but we can partner with other agencies to look for solutions,” said Mashburn.

What makes you the most qualified candidate?

“The seat that I am running for is the two-year unexpired term, and I am the only candidate running for this office,” said Mashburn. “My current experience on the town council qualifies me for the seat. I have tried to be accessible to the citizens, conservative with the taxpayers money, and I have worked with business owners and residents who have had concerns with certain issues.”

Anything else you would like voters to know?

“I want to encourage everyone to exercise their right to vote,” said Mashburn. “There has been low voter turnout in our past municipal elections, and every vote counts.”

As of press time, the Macon County News has not received responses from candidates Kevin Klatt, Brandon McMahan, Daniel Coates, T.J. Wright, or Joe Collins. Any responses received from the remaining candidates will be including in Part II of the candidate profiles slated to appear in the Oct. 24 issue of The Macon County News. 

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