Voters took to the polls yesterday, resulting in new leadership for Franklin and Highlands.
In Franklin, two candidates were vying for the open Mayoral seat, left vacant after Joe Collins announced earlier this year he would not be seeking reelection. The mayoral candidates, Bob Scott and Sissy Pattillo, were both sitting aldermen on the Franklin town board. Both Scott and Pattillo ran on the platform of supporting local business and moving Franklin in a new direction. With a total of 493 votes, or 72.82 percent of the votes cast, Scott won the election and will take the helm of the town board in December. Pattillo garnered 181, or 26.74 percent of the votes cast.
With Scott and Pattillo's run at mayor, both of their seats on the board of aldermen, as well as the seat of Billy Mashburn were up for election. Ten candidates filed for the open seats, an impressive showing for participation considering during the last election there were no challengers and less than 100 voters in the election.
When asked what his initial reaction to being elected was, Scott responded with, “Shock!” He then turned his focus to the things he hopes to see accomplished during his tenure as Franklin's new mayor. During his campaign, Scott told voters that he would only be a one term mayor and during his tenure he wanted to see Franklin develop as a town. After being elected Tuesday night, Scott reiterated his campaign goals by saying the one thing he hopes to see accomplished is the development of the property already owned by the town. “I want to see the development of the Whitmire Property for public use,” Scott said.
Scott, who was often the lone opposing vote while serving as alderman, he hopes to see that change but identifies the task as being his greatest challenge. "Pulling the board together so that we can openly work together regardless of divergent opinions,” Scott said. “I am not talking about group thinking. I am talking about everyone giving their opinion in an atmosphere where we recognize and value different opinions.”
The top three vote-getters will take their position on the board alongside Scott during the December meeting. Barbara McRae received 19.88 percent or 373 votes, making her the top vote-getter this election cycle. Patti Halyburton Abel was the second to be elected with 17.96 percent or 337 votes, followed by incumbent Billy Mashburn securing his seat with 15.57 percent or 292 percent of the votes.
“My initial reaction was surprise and delight,” McRae said of being elected. “We had a large and able field of candidates, who gave the voters quite a range of choices. I feel honored to be one of the three winners, but all the candidates deserve congratulations for their willingness to enter the race and for maintaining such a positive tone throughout. It’s exciting to see so many young people take an interest in town politics, and I hope they will remain engaged. We need them.”
McRae, who has seen first hand both citizens' and the board's participation through her coverage of local government meetings while working as editor of The Franklin Press, hopes the interest generated during the election will continue. “We have to keep the momentum going, keep people interested in town government and maintain the high energy this campaign generated,” said McRae. “I hope the sitting board members will feel encouraged by the amount of interest shown in the campaign. Residents both inside and outside the town have shared many concerns and many excellent ideas with me in the past couple of months. It’s clear that the people really care about Franklin and have high hopes for its future. We don’t want to let them down.”
While Scott's mission is to bring the board together, McRae echoes his opinion and is ready to foster cooperation within the board. “I want Franklin to become a model in the state for open and responsive government,” said McRae. “Bob Scott, the new mayor, shares this commitment and I think we can do it. The power for change resides in the people - if we listen well and encourage participation in civic life, we can do great things.”
After the votes were confirmed Tuesday night, Abel was overwhelmed by the support she received. “I am honored and humbled by the support from the whole community.,” Abel said. “I was excited to be elected by so many of the folks in Franklin. I just love this town and feeling very blessed.”
Abel sees her biggest challenge as being able to do the job voters put her in office to do. “My greatest challenge will be living up to the job that Franklin voters expect. I truly want to represent everyone in Franklin,” said Abel. “I hope that I can build a positive relationship with the other aldermen. I believe in working together to make Franklin an even better place to live. We have some infrastructure challenges that will only be solved if we work on this with the city and the county interests in mind. I believe we need to continue to encourage new businesses and continue to support existing businesses. Job growth through these new businesses and expansion of our existing businesses will insure a stable economy going forward for Franklin.We will have to work together to continue to provide great services while living within our means.”
Seeing the next four years as being a great opportunity to advance Franklin, Abel hopes to be able to accomplish positive changes for the betterment of the town. “I would hope that I can look back in four years and see a vibrant local economy that has been nurtured and encouraged to new heights by me and the others the voters have entrusted,” said Abel. “To me, there is nothing more important than building a town we can all be proud to call home. From Main Street to Back Street and through every neighborhood determined people working together can accomplish anything we set sights on!”
Incumbent Billy Mashburn will once again retain his seat and is grateful for the support. “I would like to thank all of my supporters and look forward to working with the new board and the new mayor,” said Mashburn.
Highlands Mayor David Wilkes also decided not to seek re-election, leaving his seat up for grabs. With just 86 votes separating the two candidates vying for the seat, Patrick Taylor was elected with 260 votes. The second mayoral candidate, current Highlands Commissioner Brian Stiehler, received 174 of the votes cast.
“I am honored that the people of Highlands have selected me to serve as their mayor,” said Taylor. I am ready to start working for the community.”
Taylor looks at his greatest challenge being able to maintain an open relationship with the public. “The greatest challenge is to keep the doors of communication open to all citizens,” said Taylor. “The mayor, town board and administrative staff will need to be responsive to the needs of the citizens.”
When asked what the one thing he hopes to see accomplished during his tenure, Taylor turned to the importance of managing the town of Highlands' water system. “The town will have to make important decisions about preserving and maintaining the quality of our water supply,” said Taylor. “Highlands will need to continue to balance quality economic development with preserving the natural beauty and cultural life of the community.”
With two open seats on the Highlands Board of Commissioners, the top two vote-getters our of the four candidates running were elected. Incumbent Amy Patterson secured the most votes with 294, securing her seat, followed by Donnie Calloway who received 270 votes.
Bob Scott 493 votes
Sissy Pattillo 181 votes
Barbara McRae 373 votes
Patti Halyburton Abel 337 votes
Bill Mashburn 292 votes
Angela Hubbs Moore 187 votes
Thomas Ritter 164 votes
Emmanuel Carrion 159 votes
Mack Brogden 117 votes
Adam Kimsey 101 votes
Marshall Henson 84 votes
W.H. Derrick 60 votes
Patrick Taylor 260 votes
Brian Stiehler 174 votes
Amy Patterson 294 votes
Donnie Calloway 270 votes
Michael David Rogers 121 votes
Gary Drake 106 votes