Three City Council incumbents to run again

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 14, 2008

FRANKLIN—Three of four Franklin City Council incumbents whose terms expire this summer say they will seek re-election in May.

The fourth incumbent, Ward 1 Councilman Joe Scislowicz, will not seek re-election.

Mayor Jim Councill said he is excited to seek a seventh two-year term.

“We have gone through a lot over the past 12 years and have come through these challenges with success and continued resolve for growth and improvement,” Councill said. “While there is a temporary slowdown in residential growth, there is a strong long-term interest in Franklin as a great place to live.”

Councill is looking forward to continuing work that has been under way during his term, including his work with the Army Corps of Engineers and Franklin’s congressional delegation to keep the Chowan River Basin study moving along.

“I convened with a working group of all affected localities and agencies to collaborate on solutions and joint efforts to look for solutions or preventive measures,” he said. “That process is moving, and I will continue to push this to resolution.”

The mayor also organized an Early Childhood Commission “to address the coordination and effective teaching in early childhood (ages 3-5) so that all children might be prepared to succeed as they enter kindergarten.”

He invited Southampton and Isle of Wight counties to become involved as well. Southampton joined the effort, and Isle of Wight is considering joining, Councill said.

As part of his work on the Opportunity Inc. Workforce Development Board, he has initiated more dialog among the three localities to increase vocational training opportunities for students, he said.

Councill is also active in the Hampton Roads Partnership, the The Mayors and Chairs Caucus, and serves as the chairman of the Southside Mayors and Chairs. He serves on the Hampton Roads Economic Development Authority and was recently selected to the executive committee of the Virginia Municipal League.

“Our attention in the immediate future is the Corps of Engineers study of the river,” he said, “engineering options the city might have, coordinating with police to address the increased crime and gang activity, implementing our Reverse 911 system for emergency notification, always addressing the needs and concerns of our dedicated school board, staff, and faculty, and working diligently to offer needed services as economically as possible.

“We are addressing the SPSA and Regional Jail concerns, and focusing on downtown revitalization.

“It is an exciting and challenging time,” he said.

The vice mayor’s term also ends June 30, and Raystine Johnson of Ward 4 is ready to run again for her seat.

Appointed in January 1999 when Robert Harrell passed away, she then ran in 2000. This will be the end of her second term.

“I want to continue serving Ward 4 and the city,” she said. “There is still a lot to be done. There are items from the retreat that I think haven’t been fully discussed.

“We have focused on crime and crime prevention, and are getting ready to organize in-depth Neighborhood Watch groups.

She said, “I think the electric department is still an issue, and I’d like to see more City Council discussion on (forming) a youth commission.”

Councilman Charles Wrenn intends to seek re-election to the Ward 2 seat. Wrenn, who will have served more than two full terms, was appointed in early 2000 to replace Billy Hawkins, who was transferred to another state by his employer.

Wrenn also serves as vice chairman of the Southeastern Public Service Authority Board, chairman of the Franklin Business Incubator Board, the Bronco Federal Credit Union Board and Pandemic Awareness Committee, and is president of the Rotary Club. He also serves on the Southampton Memorial Hospital Board.

“I’ve got a lot of things going on,” he said. “I don’t want any of that to drop out (of contact) with the city.

“There is a lot of unfinished work to be done. I’m real enthusiastic about the expansion of Poplar Spring Cemetery, and I’m really interested in the (recently created) Historic Preservation Commission.

“I think we have some real challenges with our schools. We are at a point where we need to start talking about a new school.”

Another primary focus of interest for Wrenn is hiring a human resources director.

“I worked at the (paper) mill for 30 years. We always had a good human resources department.”

He said that having served as both a production manager and an engineering manager, he knows how tight time is when serving in those capacities.

“You didn’t have time to do it all,” he said. “Carolyn can’t do it all by herself.” Wrenn was referring to Carolyn Joyner, who presently serves as the city’s human resources manager.

Scislowicz, in his third term serving Ward 1, will not seek the seat this election due to a change in employment.

Formerly the director of clinical treatment services at Western Tidewater Community Services Board, he has accepted a position as executive director for the Chesapeake Community Services Board.

“I was hired with the condition I wouldn’t seek re-election,” he said. “I’ll be an employee of the city of Chesapeake, and they don’t want anything (to arise that may) be in conflict (with the city).

“I respect that. I think it’s a good decision.”

He said, “It’s good timing. It’s time for some new blood.

“I think we’ve accomplished a lot with this team. There have been two hurricanes and a flood we’ve recovered from, we’ve (attracted) new retail to the area, put (a business) in the Industrial Park, and renovated the Business Incubator, which is a real jewel for downtown Franklin.

&uot;I’m happy to have served,” he said.

The local elections will be held May 6. The deadline for candidates to file is March 4.