Franklin recall candidates sound off on dysfunction, development, goals
By Patrick Thomas
The recall election for the district 4 aldermanic seat in Franklin is approaching, with the election date set for Tuesday, Sept. 8.
Current alderwoman Janet Evans and former alderman Steve Taylor are both vying for the position.
The recall effort has been underway for months. In March a recall committee distributed fliers which called Evans "The Wicked Witch of Franklin" and took her to task over her perceived stance on a proposed apartment complex and escort ordinance. Evans disputed the committee's claims as distortions of fact. Taylor was the only other nominee for the election, and was a candidate for mayor in 2014.
We posed four questions to each candidate to profile their positions on issues and their candidacy.
NOW Newspapers has heard of several citizens complaining about the supposed "dysfunction" in Franklin City Hall, and in the common council. Do you agree, or disagree that there is dysfunction, and if so how can it be curbed? (limit 100 words)
Janet Evans: It's disruption, and is clearly evidenced in council meeting audio. Commitment and teamwork are needed to achieve success in our city.
The community should question the reasoning behind the chaos. A recall isn't the cure. If it's successful, I see issues escalating because there is disregard for the fact a mayor and aldermen were elected in 2014, and some are being undermined by individuals with personal agendas. Besides the stain left on the city, our dedicated staff could end up a casualty. Disruption, micromanaging, and increased workload for petty reasons could spur low morale if not kept in check.
Steve Taylor: There is dysfunction at City Hall, and residents who have attended meetings have witnessed it and are frustrated. It starts with Mayor Olson, who has tried to bully some aldermen into supporting his vision. He has even bullied residents who show up to oppose him. These issues didn't occur before he took office. Alderwoman Evans has been complicit in this behavior, which has led to her being recalled. In order to turn things around, the city needs to be more transparent. It also needs to solicit input from residents before decisions are made and not after the fact.
Economic development is a hot topic right now in Franklin. What do you think needs to be done in order to stimulate growth in the city, and bring in new businesses, or do you think development needs to slow down? (limit 100 words).
J.E.: The key word is "growth." We were on the right path in November 2014 approving the study of three city areas for future development. Now we are at a standstill, with organized opposition and misinformation being spread. Citizens tend to be content with development when it provides their place in the community, but typically question further growth if it impacts them afterwards. Many longtime residents do not desire any growth. As leaders, we need to make the difficult decisions, while integrating community input into the plans to achieve the best results for planned development and growth.
S.T.: City officials should be laser-focused on developing a city center and not wasting time and hundreds of thousands of dollars on a risky business park venture. There is a synergy coming from The Rock, and we need to capitalize on it by bringing in the retail and entertainment that our residents have been asking for. They are tired of having to leave the city limits to spend their hard-earned dollars, while neighboring communities are kicking our butts. I have the leadership necessary to bring this plan to fruition.
Read the rest of the candidate Q&A at Franklin Now.