Council hopefuls push job creation

Published 9:12 am Friday, March 5, 2010

FRANKLIN—When voters head to the polls in Franklin in May, three City Council seats, including the mayor, will be up for grabs.

Councilwoman Mary Hilliard is running unopposed for a fourth seat in Ward 5. She was re-elected without opposition in 2006.

Jamie Brown, Ray Smith and Don Blythe are vying to replace Ward 6 Councilman Mark Fetherolf, who isn’t seeking re-election.

“I think that there is always a need for change in government. I believe in term limits,” Smith said, adding that he believes the council needs “fresh ideas.”

Smith, 62, is a businessman and has served on the city’s Planning Commission for several years.

“I understand the needs of the city,” he said, both for the future and immediate needs like job creation and improved education.

Smith said that he’s pleased that others are also running for the seat.

“It’s good when people have a choice,” he said.

Brown, 58, works in the emergency room at Obici Hospital in Suffolk. Until five years ago, he was the head of the editorial department at The Tidewater News.

“I enjoy serving the public,” he said, when asked why he was running for City Council. He said job creation should be a priority for the council.

“And I’m not talking about a large industry,” he said. “The chances of getting an industry that is going to employ 200 or 300 people are slim.”

Instead, Brown said, the focus should be on making the city “more conducive” to small businesses.

Brown said that he knows all of the current City Council members and doesn’t have any problems with them or his opponents.

Mayor Jim Councill is facing opposition from Planning Commission member James Riddick Sr.

Greg McLemore, who challenged Councill in the mayoral race two years ago, is challenging Councilwoman Rosa Lawrence in Ward 3. Lawrence is seeking her second term after defeating E. Kent Pope in 2006. McLemore wouldn’t comment about his candidacy Thursday afternoon.

Several attempts to reach Blythe for comment about his candidacy were unsuccessful.