Friday, January 16, 2009

Franklin Needs a Mayor

(News-Herald, January 15) As you may have noted in last week’s paper, we’re in the market for a new mayor in Franklin
Mayor Heller did a nice job, and I’ll be sorry to see him go. It’s hard to find a good mayor for a small town, and I’m not exactly sure where we should turn for our next one. Retired folks might have more time for mayoring, but employed folks might be more in touch with the current flow of life. Age brings experience, but youth brings vitality and an eye on the future of the city.
I’m not convinced that we need someone with governmental experience. We have professionals to know about the nuts and bolts of keeping the city functioning. For mayor we need someone who can run a meeting and who can be the voice and face of the city. It would be nice to have someone who is positive and upbeat about Franklin, even nicer to have someone who has some vision about our future. In Venangoland politics we settle too often for people whose vision is to just kind of keep doing more or less what we’ve been doing. That’s not really enough any more.
I’m not sure who might step forward at this point, and really, why should we wait. Let’s draft someone for the job. I have a few thoughts.
Toby Saltarelli would make a fine mayor. He already knows a large percentage of the population of Franklin. His long years with Joy put him in touch with the business sector. His long association with Franklin Civic Operetta, particularly in managing and overseeing the building of the Barrow, put him in touch with the arts. His wife’s years working for the county put him in touch with that sector of government. And his years as a church choir director put him in touch with, well, Presbyterians, anyway.
On top of his many qualifications, I confess that I also like the idea of being able to walk into Leonardo’s most nights of the week and say hi to the mayor and his family at their table. That strikes me as small town in the best sense of the word.
I’d also be happy to draft Jeri Gent. She did exceptionally fine work for years heading up the Chamber of Commerce. She knows who to see to make things happen in Franklin, and she knows how to get things organized and promoted. She has a background that includes some big city expertise plus solid roots in our own community. She’s articulate, experienced and already knows a giant chunk of the local population, but she also has lots of connections to the surrounding areas that would be a bonus to Franklin in these days of intra-municipal cooperation.
I know I said No Government Professionals, but I would make an exception for Gary Hutchison. Gary’s experience as a county commissioner would give him a solid background in the business of navigating endless bureaucratic bologna, particularly state-level bologna, which I imagine is an all-too-present part of governing any city in the commonwealth.
Gary would inherit the fine old Franklin tradition of teacher-as-mayor (tip of the hat to Bob Olson). He would have the disadvantage of being a Democrat, which means that if my dog ran against him as a Republican, my dog would win (though I should note that my dog has declared that he has no interest in running for mayor).
But I’m not even at the end of my short list. Judy Grandelis has been a successful local businesswoman several times over; she knows how to organize and get things done, plus she knows the community inside and out. And while, decades ago, she and I were about the same age, I’m pretty sure while I got old, she did not. So she has the whole youth thing going for her.
Or Lou Slautterback, who can do promotion and motivation like nobody’s business. Lou knows every Franklin citizen who ever spent a day in elementary phys ed, and he knows every foot of street where someone might have ever wanted to buy a snow cone.
And every one of my candidates raised kids in Franklin, so they have that perspective as well. Oh, and the other thing they have in common is that I haven’t consulted any of them about tossing their names into the ring. This is a fun game anyone can play. Call someone and tell him or her to run for mayor today!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, I nominate you pa greene. I've consulted with Midnight, and he's willing to host a BYOB (bones-silly!) strategizing meeting. Whatd'ya say? Any seconds?

a not-so-anonymous fan

Dittman said...

That's a pretty generous definition of youth!
I'd like to see a real youth candidate -- someone around 25 who has the energy to break through the prevailing, "But that's the way we've always done things around here." Someone whose last name I don't recognize. Someone with big ideas and the guts to push through the unpleasant cuts that our town is facing as we continue to shrink.

nicocoer said...

I agree with Dittman that a younger "Youth" thing would be good, but I'm not sure about as young as 25- I don't know that our county is currently ready for that.

(Though I'd totally support you if you decided to go for it! *laughs*)

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