Editor’s note: The Macon County News has historically provided its readers with profiles of candidates running for local offices. Part I includes biographical information for the mayoral candidates and four of the 10 candidates for alderman. The remaining six candidates will be featured in next week’s issue.
Franklin residents will have no shortage of choices in November's upcoming municipal election as 10 residents have filed for alderman and two have filed for mayor.
Only residents who live within Franklin city limits are able to vote in the election, to be held Tuesday, Nov. 5. For mayor, residents will be permitted to vote for one candidate, and the candidate with the most votes will win. For alderman, there are three open seats on the board, so voters will be able to vote for three candidates and the top three vote getters will be appointed to the board.
After serving on the Franklin Board of Aldermen for seven years, Carolyn "Sissy" Pattillo has decided to continue her public service in a different capacity. Pattillo filed to run for mayor on July 5 with the hopes of moving Franklin forward. "My family has resided in Franklin for three generations and I have a vested interest in our town," she said. "Having served as a Town of Franklin Alderman for over seven years, I felt the time was right for me to continue my service as mayor."
Pattillo, who was born and raised in Franklin, lives in the very house she grew up in. She and her husband, "Coach" Pat Pattillo, have been married for 48 years and have two children, Rocky and Meg, and four grandchildren, Quinton, Madi, Lizzie, and Landon.
A Franklin High School graduate, Pattillo attended the University of Greensboro and Western Carolina University. After receiving her masters degree from WCU, Pattillo began her service in public education, where she worked for 34 years before retiring.
With her favorite thing about Franklin being the "small town" atmosphere, Pattillo said she decided to run for mayor during a pivotal point in the town's future.
"I believe Franklin is at a crossroads and I would like to see the town government, the merchants, the county government, and the community working more closely together," she said. In addition to her service on the town board, Pattillo has also served the people of Macon County in multiple capacities and currently serves on the Angel Medical Center Foundation Board, Franklin Main Street Program Board, Region A Partnership for Children, and Streets/Sidewalks for the Town of Franklin.
Current Franklin Alderman Bob Scott, 72, has decided after 10 years on the town board, he would like to serve the town by running for mayor. A Greenville, S.C. native, Scott moved to Franklin in 1967 and married Nancy Siler Scott. Public service remains a joint interest for the couple as Nancy served on the Franklin Board of Aldermen for 11 years and worked with Alderman Merle Dryman to start various beautification projects within the town. The couple has two children and two grandchildren.
"Serving as mayor is not about power and control," said Scott. "It is about service. And that is the reason I am running. To serve a town which has meant so much to me, as an adopted son of Franklin."
Scott attended Brevard College and Furman University where he majored in political science. He also attended Southwestern Community College at night and on weekends later in life to earn an AAS degree in Criminal Justice.
"After SCC, I attended Western Carolina University where I received a BS degree in Criminal Justice," said Scott. "I have had an interest in leadership ever since I graduated (1965) the South Carolina National Guard’s officer candidate school and was commissioned a second lieutenant. I also graduated from the North Carolina Justice Academy’s extensive Management Development Program and Criminal Investigation Certificate Program. I hold the North Carolina Criminal Justice Standards Advanced Law Enforcement Training Certificate. In 2001 I was chosen with five other North Carolina Law Enforcement Officers to attend the 205th session of the FBI National Academy. I was one of the graduates of the National Academy’s Leadership Challenge program that was in addition to the regular curriculum."
Scott believes that his leadership experience serving as a platoon leader in the National Guard and Army Reserve and through working for several major commands as a Public Information and Photo Officer, will help in the role of mayor. Scott also has experience as Macon County’s first full time emergency management director, and organized the county’s Emergency Medical Service which later became a model for Western North Carolina. "I am particularly proud that I hired the first two female EMTs," said Scott.
Scott is a graduate of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Career Development Course and was one of the two planners for the new Macon County Law Enforcement Center. He served as Sheriff Homer Holbrooks executive officer and finished his law enforcement career as the executive officer of the Western Carolina University Police Department. "This experience has taught me that the most valuable asset of any organization is its people," said Scott. "I know that as the mayor, my job will be to make sure the town employees have the tools they need to serve the public. I have learned that the most important thing for a leader is to be a good listener. I sometimes learned that the hard way. I have made mistakes that have taught me how to be a better leader. Any leader who has not made mistakes must have been asleep."
According to Scott, his favorite thing about Franklin is the people, both those who live here and those who decide to visit. As he has during his 10 years on the town board, Scott plans to continue keeping both Franklin residents and visitors in mind as Mayor. "I have served 10 years on the town board," he said. "At times I have been the lone vote for or against something that I felt was or was not in the best interest of the town. I do not believe in ‘Groupthink,’ which is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an incorrect or deviant decision-making outcome."
One goal of Scott's is to revitalize the town through employing youth involvement. "One change I would like to see is giving the younger generation and merchants more voice and openness in their town government," he said. "So many of our businesses are owned by people who do not live in Franklin, and therefore do not have a vote. I plan to form a business council where these business owners have a voice, even though they do not have a vote."
With the intent of public service often being lost in politics, Scott plans to work to bring it back to Franklin. "Government is not a business," said Scott. "It is a service to the public. If elected mayor, every voice will be heard and every idea, no matter how ridiculous it may seem, will get a hearing. Franklin does not belong to a select few. It does not belong to the mayor and town board. It belongs to us all."
Franklin Town Alderman
Franklin resident Thomas Ritter hopes to bring a vision of change to the board of aldermen. A La Crosse, Wisc., native, Ritter and his wife, Nancy, have vacationed in Franklin since 1999 and decided to make it permanent in 2005 with their three adopted children, Ashely, Emily and Christian.
"I feel this community needs a change of vision," said Ritter of his reason for running. "This economy has affected all of us very hard, and we don’t seem to be rebounding as well as we could. This board needs common sense and a sense of purpose. Board voting cannot be biased. It must be considered and evaluated from all angles, discussed, and decided upon with the best interest of this community in mind."
Ritter is a 1979 graduate of La Crosse Aquinas High School and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1983 and his Master of Architecture Degree, in 1985 from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.
"I had obtained my initial Architectural License in 1988 and have subsequently become licensed in seven states throughout the country," said Ritter. "I currently hold active professional registrations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Colorado and Kansas. I am NCARB certified and have previously belonged to the American Institute of Architects."
Ritter opened his first Architectural firm in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 1993, and upon relocation here in 2001, opened his current/ active corporation, Ritter Architecture, PA.
"I have completed countless projects for the Macon County Board of Commissioners and the Town of Franklin Board of Aldermen," said Ritter. "This experience has given me direct contact with the local jurisdictional boards, (building department, planning and zoning, etc.). I have presented many projects in front of these boards and have become comfortable in doing so. I have developed long-lasting, professional and personal relationships with many past and present board members. These relationships have always been based upon mutual respect and understanding. I have continually demonstrated fiscal responsibility, patience, and understanding, while accepting leadership and guidance roles throughout my career."
Although Ritter has never served on the board of aldermen, he does have prior political experience. In 2002, he served as the Precinct Chair for the Cullasaja District, is the former president of the Franklin Chamber of Commerce, current Master of the Chamber, served as a Macon County Community Foundation Board member since 2007, MCCF Board Chairperson since 2012, former board member for Mountain Youth Resources and has served on the Association for the Visual Arts board since 2012. He is also a Paul Harris Fellow and former member of the Franklin Daybreak Rotary Club, as well as continuing partner with Habitat for Humanity for their local projects.
With his favorite thing about Franklin being the people, Ritter hopes that while in office he will be able to encourage community involvement in the board.
"My favorite thing about Franklin is clearly the people. The people here, as a whole, are self-less, caring, sincere, and genuine. You can’t teach or develop that. These qualities are inherent in a person’s heart," said Ritter. "We need to find a way to keep our younger generation wanting to stay here, or at least wanting to return here, once they have gone out and established themselves."
Ritter believes that led by community investment, businesses sustainability will follow. "We need to keep local businesses viable and successful, by providing an environment conducive and attractive to educated professionals," he said. "We have several high tech, clean businesses, as well as a local hospital that are having real difficulty attracting qualified personnel, primarily due to what the community currently has to offer. We cannot afford to keep losing local restaurants, and other local businesses that keep our local economy vibrant."
With this municipal election striking up more interest than others in recent memory, Ritter believes the greatest thing to focus on is change.
"It is time for a change. The town needs to progress in a controlled, logical fashion, being led by a common sense, unified Board of Aldermen," he said. "Recent elections lacked any opposition to incumbent board members, and now, as you can easily see, there are many qualified candidates for the Board of Aldermen seats, willing to give their time and effort on behalf of the Town of Franklin. We are not candidates running against each other, I truly believe, we are candidates running with each other for a better, stronger, community for the future."
Although he is the youngest candidate vying for a seat on Franklin's town board, 27-year-old Adam Kimsey hopes to be a voice for the younger generation in Franklin.
"Through dealings and interactions with different individuals and entities over the last few years I have had my eyes open to the world that is Franklin town politics," said Kimsey of his reasoning for running for office. "I have too many times found myself one of the many who simply stand about complaining that I didn't like the way issue A was addressed, or how I could have done it better.
With the push of many other intelligent, involved, and engaged individuals, I have decided to start trying to do something, and offering solutions, lest than simply criticize those who put in the time and effort to address town problems. I want to see the town that I grew up in, and love, be the type of place that people want to not only come to but also stay, live, raise families, and build relationships."
Recently married to his wife Natasha, Kimsey was born in Sylva and has lived in Franklin since he was a child. His parents, Vic and Christene Kimsey, as well as his sister, Ariana, reside in Franklin. After graduating high school, Kimsey studied business in college before entering the work force. He has held multiple management positions both at Ingles and Caterpillar and has work experience in training coordination which is a function of human resources, through Caterpillar.
"I believe that business knowledge combined with the ability and experience of dealing with, and assisting people will lead me to succeed in grasping the issues that people in Franklin have, relating with the individuals who bring them to the table, and helping to address those issues," said Kimsey.
According to Kimsey, his favorite thing about Franklin is the simplicity in the town's beauty.
"Though easy to overlook as I have become somewhat accustomed to it, would be the beauty of the area. My wife loves to hike and you live in a place people come solely to walk and take in its splendor," said Kimsey. "Mainly though, I think it is the people that keep me here. There is a real sense of southern hospitality and charm to the majority of people that live here and that really provides you with a sense of community, the kind you don't necessarily get everywhere you travel."
Kimsey believes that by running for office, he can become a voice and a face for change and youth in town politics.
"I think a major theme of my entire campaign will be focused on getting the youth generation not only aware of the politics and issues that Franklin deals with, but also involved and taking action to bring forth items that are important to them and make them happen," said Kimsey. "I want to see a town that more fully embraces its youth and provides them with outlets in which to socialize and exhibit their talents. What are we doing to provide them with places to be, things to do, and most importantly reasons to stay. I, myself, have seen too many individuals grow up in Franklin, get their education, then leave for somewhere they considered to be ‘better.’ I want to move away from the consensus feeling of those I talk to that Franklin hides its youth until it sends them away."
With a sea of candidates to choose from, Kimsey recognizes that the most important thing to gather from the November election is the need to get the town involved. "What is far more important to me in this election is to get more people, of all ages, involved in local politics," he said. "It makes no difference if I win or lose if people go right back to sitting on their couch and never coming to town meetings to address the issues that affect their lives, and possibly the lives of their children. If you wait to read it in the newspaper, it is too late to complain about it."
The lone incumbent in the alderman race, Billy Mashburn, 61, hopes to retain his seat in order to continue serving the people of Franklin. A Franklin native, Mashburn graduated from Franklin High School and Southwestern Community College. Mashburn and his wife, Dinah, who was an Assistant Clerk of Superior Court for Macon County for 30 years and who is now retired, have a daughter, Jenna Mashburn, and a step-son, Justin Setser.
"During my tenure on the Town Board, I have enjoyed working for the people of Franklin and hope I have given something back," said Mashburn. "I have always tried to do what I believe would be in the best interest of the citizens of Franklin, to be conservative with the taxpayers’ money and to be accessible to anyone who has a problem or a question. I would like to continue as a member of the Board of Aldermen."
Mashburn holds an AAS degree in Business Administration and an AAS degrees in Paralegal Technology from Southwestern Community College. He is employed by attorney Russell R. Bowling and works as a paralegal.
Mashburn has been a long serving member of the Board of Aldermen and hopes to continue working to better his hometown. "As a member of the Board of Aldermen, I am aware of many of the issues that affect the town," he said. "Some of these issues are the availability of water and sewer service, including locating a second water source, unregulated growth, the economy and new laws and regulations coming from the General Assembly. I believe that I have the knowledge and ability to successfully deal with these difficult issues."
Franklin is the type of small, southern town where everyone knows your name and treats everyone like a friend. That hospitality is the reason why Mashburn's favorite thing about Franklin is the people.
Mashburn hopes to continuing serving the Town of Franklin to see the town's economy improve for residents. "Something I would like to see change, along with millions of other folks, would be for the economy to strengthen and for the people of Franklin and Macon County who need and want to work to find a job," said Mashburn.
Long-time Franklin resident Barbara McRae has lived on Harrison Avenue since 1983 when she and her late husband Jim first moved there. With McRae's father being in the Air Force, the military life allowed McRae to travel extensively. She graduated from high school in Wiesbaden, Germany. In 1974, McRae first moved here to live on Jones Creek. Two sons, Scott and Sam, have also lived in Macon County.
"I love Franklin and feel that I have gotten to know it well," said McRae of her reason for running for office. "Now that I’ve retired, I have the time to devote to public service, which has always appealed to me."
McRae graduated with a B.S. in biology from St. Louis University in St. Louis, Mo., in 1964, took graduate studies for two years and then moved to Atlanta, where she worked as a systems engineer for I.B.M.
"After we moved to the mountains, I worked as a reporter for The Franklin Press and then spent 20 years with Nantahala Power and Light Company (later Duke Energy) in corporate communications," she said. "After retiring from Duke, I returned to The Press as editor until retiring a second time, last November."
The communication skills that McRae obtained both with Nantahala Power and with The Franklin Press will help her best with with residents of the town.
"I feel that I have experience in several areas that could be useful in office, particularly the skills I developed in communications and my knowledge of the community," she said.
While McRae may have not served in an official political capacity, her role as editor and reporter for The Franklin Press has allowed her to get an inside look at the inner workings of various town boards.
"Most of my experience has been as an observer and reporter of local government and politics," she said. "I have served on several town and county committees, including the county’s Economic Development Commission and the town Planning Board."
According to McRae, her favorite thing about Franklin is how inviting it is to everyone.
"Franklin is such a friendly, inviting town," she said. "I recently showed some friends around, and realized how proud I was to live here. They told me it seemed to be the ideal small town, and I have to agree with them."
If elected to the board, McRae would like to work to increase public involvement in the decision making of the board.
"People have commented to me that they sometimes felt shut out of decision making," she said. "I strongly favor open government. Beyond transparency, I think that officials should seek public input on important matters and make an effort to explain their decisions to citizens."
As a local historian, McRae hopes to be able to preserve the town's natural beauty, while moving the town's economy forward.
"I have a strong interest in protecting the environment, building a strong economy, and preserving the heritage and history of our beautiful and fascinating hometown," she said.