By JEAN CARTER
Citizen staff writer
Of the 326 voters within Franklin City, nearly 50 turned out to hear the nine city candidates state their position on issues facing the city today and in the future. There are two candidates for mayor, Todd Hawkes, who was appointed as mayor several months ago, and Robert Atkinson. Emily Chatterton and Joyce Bayles are seeking another four-year term, with Mark Dietrich, Denis Jepsen and Glen Seamons competing. Stanton Smith, who had been appointed to a two-year term, is being challenged by Bryce Wood.
Saundra Hubbard, mediator for the night, introduced all the candidates, turning the floor over to the nine candidates.
Atkinson said he was raised in Franklin, but had moved away to serve a military career. He stated due to his experience in the service, he has the ability to study and analyze issues and make recommendations that would benefit the city. When asked about the administrator position, Atkinson stated he would have to look at the budget. He is in favor of an administrator, but it should be a part-time position. Concerning feelings that have arisen during the past few months between residents and council, he said the way to heal hurts and wounds is by having community involvement. If elected, said Atkinson, he would ask for “transparency, ability and progress” from the council. “I would research the issues and find solutions.”
Mayor Todd Hawkes said he had been on the city council, planning and zoning and acting mayor during his 12 years involvement with city government. “I have not regretted any decisions, the city is facing a lot of issues and it is difficult sometimes for a small town council. The election will do a lot to heal wounds.”
Stating her reason for seeking the council seat, Emily Chatterton replied she is in favor of honesty and integrity. As council member over parks, Chatterton said she is dedicated to making the city parks safe and beautiful. She said she would continue with that goal even if she is not re-elected. She said in keeping with the dream of founding fathers, she would encourage expanding, yet try to keep it a small community, where everyone knows their neighbor and looks out for each other.
Joyce Bayles wants to see more of the community involved. She has lived in Franklin 36 years, six of them as a widow. “I am amazed at what goes into running the city. I would like to see things done in the right way, and I would like to serve. I have enjoyed my term. I encourage all of you to come out and vote. It is a privilege and a right.”
Denis Jepson, who served on the council eight years during the 1990’s, said he was known as a “rabble rouser.” He said he would like to see council “follow the constitutional law.” In order to heal wounds from the past, everyone needs to talk to each other. As for growth, “study your resources, judge your growth and increase what is available.” In the future, he would help make the community a safe and secure environment. “Council can’t do it all,” he said. “They need the community.”
Candidate Mark Dietrich told voters past decisions have been made and they have been tough decisions. He stated there has to be growth, but the city should not over-run itself. “I hope the community can come together, serve each other, do service projects. Let’s improve the looks of our community.” With a degree in landscaping, he knows what needs to be done to improve the looks of the city. He has worked with the Boy Scouts 16 years, has raised a family of four boys, and said that it takes a community to make a city work. “I know how to get things done,” he said.
Stanton Smith referred to the recent hiring of city administrator. “When emotions run high, it is hard to make decisions. We need to look at the city attorney and seek legal advice.” He would like to see the city welcome newcomers. “We invite others to come.” Smith has a Master’s in business management, saying he has the ability to think about issues and do research, has work experience and has a love of the community.
Bryce Wood is a new resident, moving here one year ago. “I want to have a voice in opportunities for the community. I am not experienced, but I want to gain knowledge, learn how to fix things and help me to learn the community. You are awesome people.”
Each of the candidates are conservatives, and Jepson said, “If you don’t need it, don’t spend it.”
Council candidate Glen Seamons was unable to attend the meeting.
This story is sponsored by FCMC Home Health and Hospice.
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