Editor’s note: The Macon County News has historically provided its readers with profiles of candidates running for local offices. Parts I and II were featured in the last two editions of the newspaper and include biographical information for the mayoral candidates and four of the 10 candidates for alderman. Visit maconnews.com to read Part I and II of the candidate profiles.
Franklin residents have a full slate of candidates from which to choose in November's 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.
Patti Halyburton Abel
Patti Halyburton Abel hopes to bring her business experience to the Franklin Town Board in November.
"I have come to realize the strengths I have as a small business owner and the value I can bring to Franklin," said Abel. "Franklin is where my husband and I, along with our daughter Rylie, call home. I want to make a difference and give back to our community. Yes, I was nudged into running by many supportive friends. I appreciate their confidence in me and my abilities to make Franklin an even better place to live, both now and in the future for our daughter and all the families in this great community."
A Macon County native, Abel, 41, lives in Franklin with her husband, Donnie, and their daughter, Rylie, and owns Abel Fitness. The daughter of Pat and Wanda Halyburton, Abel has one sibling, Jamey Halyburton who works at Bridge Builders in Franklin. "My brother and I feel very blessed to have been raised here," said Abel. "I served my community in high school clubs and was on the first Girls Cross Country team before graduating from Franklin High School in 1990."
Abel studied business management and accounting while attending Western Carolina University. "I had humble beginnings as a server at the Cullasaja Club, where active listening, compassion, and leadership, led to subsequent promotions in accounting and management culminating years later with moving to Asheville for three years," said Abel. "I served as the comptroller for a land development company. I had the responsibility of budgets, cash-flow projections, payroll, financials, and overall accounting management for three developments along with their homeowners associations. This included working with executive officers and overseeing the permitting processes, approvals for road building and excavation, utilities, water and septic. Observing and participating in the entire process of birthing a development, working with local governing bodies, gave me invaluable experience. All that combined with now being a small business owner can be put to great use if I am elected."
According to Abel, owning a business is the hardest job she has ever had. "Together with my husband, Donnie, we operated the first three years totally on our own," said Abel. "We were the teachers, the accountant, the administration, the cleaning crew - all that and keeping our eyes on the bottom line. Success followed and we have been blessed to have added a massage therapist, two part-time positions, and bringing Donnie in on a full time basis. My experiences have only served to deepen my respect for business owners and those that help to support small business. I see that everyday in Franklin. I hope to strengthen that relationship continually in our community, between small business and the community, should I hold office."
Abel explained that while running for Town Alderman will be her first venture into city management, she is looking forward to the opportunity. "You may call it politics, but I prefer to think of it in a more positive way," said Abel. "Politics today does not represent how I would like to see Franklin managed. I have been involved in opening our business with my husband Donnie and I realized early on that there are similarities in running a successful business and a successful town government. It requires a commitment to finding what is valued by your customers, or in this case, constituents, and it requires listening and then acting in a manner that is fair to all concerned and beneficial to all."
As her hometown, Abel loves every aspect of Franklin. "Franklin is my hometown," said Abel of her favorite thing about Franklin. "I believe in Franklin and the people who live here. It is the best place to raise a family and own a business. Our heritage, coupled with the natural beauty and genuine care from the residents, make Franklin a fantastic place to call home."
Abel has no set agenda, but wants to work with residents to shape a vision for the future of the town. "My vision for Franklin will continue to evolve as I become more familiar with the needs of our town," she said. "I see the importance of a vibrant and active downtown area. It Is the door to our community. That draws people from Franklin, and visitors, along with their economic support to benefit every resident. In turn that supports tax revenue and jobs."
"I want to assure the residents of Franklin that I will always have their best interests in mind and will take the time to understand the issues and then will work with the same energy I put into my business to work with the other aldermen to get things done," said Abel.
After 56 years in the workforce, Franklin resident Marshall Henson retired, but hopes to leave retirement to try his hand in town politics.
"I feel like I need to do something for Franklin," said Henson. "I love Franklin, whatever I can do that I feel is honest and necessary to better the town, I want to do what I can to help. I want to be able to do what needs to be done for the town."
Henson, 73, was born in Jackson County, but settled in Franklin 50 years ago with his wife, Joyce. Together, the couple has one daughter, Vanessa Sabrina. After graduating high school, Henson entered the work force. He went to work for Winn Dixie, where he worked for 17 years. He travelled through the southeast region of the United States working with Winn Dixie's produce departments. While working for the grocery chain, he furthered his education through business and training courses offered by the company.
After leaving Winn Dixie, he went into business for himself exploring several business ventures ranging from a tire store, a singing group and a retail shop. "I believe my business experience would help me tremendously if elected to office," he said. "My work experience has taught me how to manage money and how to be financially responsible for funds that are not mine. I also know how to make money, which I think would be of benefit for the town's economy."
Although Henson has no previous political experience, he has been a leader in his church organizations since he first started as a choir director at Glenville Baptist Church in Jackson County when he was a teenager. He has also served as Choir Director for Iotla Baptist Church here in Macon County.
With extensive travel experience, Henson says he has never been anywhere else that is as friendly a town as Franklin. "I don't know of anything bad about Franklin," said Henson of his favorite thing about the community. "We have the greatest people in the world right here. Something can be said about a community where everyone speaks to each other and as soon as you go into town someone throws up a hand and says hello. Everyone is so friendly here."
The sense of community Franklin embodies is something Henson wants to work to transition to the town board. "The townspeople work together on everything," he said. They work together as a whole. I want the Town Board to do that and to work to see what's best for everyone. It is not about any one person, it is about Franklin."
Henson plans to focus on job creation by exploring ways to bring in industries and model a system after small South Carolina towns. "I would love to work to bring something in here that can hire 50-100 people," he said. "You see towns in South Carolina with factories and we need that here. We need to start improving our home front and taking care of what is in front of us."