No new candidates challenge incumbents in Franklin elections
Four out of the six Town of Franklin aldermen up for election this year will be running as unopposed incumbents for their positions in November, along with the Mayor. The other positions are staggered and will be up for grabs in two years.
“Basically, there is nobody in town who will run against them,” chuckled Town Manager Sam Greenwood on Monday. “And because of state law they have to run in an election.”
Incumbent Aldermen Bob Scott, Farrell Jamison and Joyce Handley all filed for re-election on Friday. Mayor Joyce Handley all filed for re-election on Friday. Mayor Joe Collins is also scheduled to run unopposed this year.
Scott however will be running to fill the rest of former Alderman Jerry Evans’ term on the board. Jamison, who temporarily filled Evans’ unexpired term last May, will run for Scott’s four-year seat — playing an incumbent game of musical chairs. The rest of their peers will also be running for four-year terms.
“Nobody on the board is really anxious,” said Collins, who will be making his fourth run for mayor. “We can only expect that the citizens of Franklin are satisfied or that nobody is really willing to roll up their sleeves and jump in. I am sure there are some folks out there that are not completely satisfied.”
In 2009, Collins retained his seat as mayor after a slim victory over Scott, winning by 15 votes. He served as alderman from 1997-2003, and then mayor from that year to present. He noted that town residents generally show interest in local political issues — like FEMA flood maps — which is why he was surprised to run unopposed this year.
Handley however has a more critical view. “I think it’s sad that nobody’s running. I think it’s a waste of taxpayers’ money to even have to run or have an election,” she said, adding that she felt she has made a difference on the board since her first election in November 2007.
Since her first election in 2007, Handley said that she felt she has made a difference, having strongly supported townsponsored non-profits such as the Arts Council of Macon County, REACH and Macon County CareNet, in addition to protecting the interests of property owners by supporting Minimum Housing Ordinance codes against the dereliction of adjacent properties.
Alderman newcomer Farrell Jamison remarked that the absence of challengers for town positions “could be a sign of the times,” due to the need to work inherited by many in a tough economic climate.
“It seems to be less consistent with the history of town residents,” said Jamison. “There used to be a lot more folks that would come out to board meetings. Now, unless there’s a specific issue or if it’s something that directly affects them, we don’t always see a whole lot of them.”
Jamison, who has worked for Franklin Fire and Rescue for 34 years, now works part-time as a fire and rescue training coordinator for Southwestern Community College, along with serving as the county fire investigator. He has recently expressed an interest in contributing to Franklin’s economic development, as well as its Comprehensive Plan, infrastructure, Fire Department related matters and various other issues.
Alderman Scott finds the lack of opposition peculiar.
“I think it’s interesting that there is no opposition and I don’t know the reasoning for it,” said Scott, who said that when he ran for his second term, he promised his constituents that he would not run for a third term, believing in term limits. “Honestly, at that time I wasn’t fully aware of some of the major issues that were developing.”
In the next two years, Scott said the Town of Franklin will continue to face several obstacles, including the fate of the town-owned and unused Whitmire property, the coming of a potentially detrimental motorcycle rally and the entry of new department heads like a police chief and town manager next year.
“There is no such thing as business as usual in town politics,” said Scott. “We need to take care of a lot of things and people, and that always changes.” He added that since he began serving as alderman, he became friends with the late Jerry Evans, who shared several concerns as he did. “I am running out of respect for Jerry. He and I differed on a lot of issues, but I know where he was with a lot of things and I know what he was thinking … I am running for my friend.”
None of the other candidates turned down the chance to run again for what they see as a mutually beneficial reason for the town.
“As you build some years with the board and as mayor, there’s a lot of team work that comes out of it,” said Collins. “It’s a group that you’ve been around and there is always something on the plate. I am willing to continue to work with the board on town issues.”
Collins remarked that the occasional contention between aldermen on certain issues, such as the fate of the Whitmire property or the recently passed Minimum Housing Ordinance, affords the board proper political discourse to deal with municipal issues adequately. “We have conscientious and experienced leadership on the board, and when coupled with a seasoned town manager, we are a better equipped board,” he said.
Curtis, who is running for his third term, was unavailable for comment as of press time. Since he first took office, Curtis has aggressively pursued a settlement with Duke Power on how to address the local water and sewage system, as well as the fate of the Lake Emory dam.
Early on in his career as alderman, Curtis attended all government training conferences offered by the North Carolina League of Municipalities. In the boardroom, he worked on the new sign ordinance, the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), and the zoning map.
How to vote for the incumbents OR write another in
According to Kim Bishop, director of the Macon County Board of Elections, the cost of a municipal election is approximately $3,000. She added that never in her 10 years serving on the board of elections has she seen such an incumbentheavy race, however, the public will have an option to writein a candidate for any town board position.
Franklin election day will be held on Nov. 8 at Town Hall. One Stop voting will open at the Board of Elections and will begin on Oct. 20, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday, Nov. 5 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Absentee voting by mail will begin on Oct. 7 by request. Voter registration deadline is Oct. 14.