Burgess, Johnson should consider not running again

Published 8:44 am Friday, January 6, 2012

by Thomas H. Councill Jr.

In the article titled “Franklin mayor to seek eighth term” published Dec. 30, I read that incumbent Ward 1 Councilman Barry Cheatham said he plans to seek a second term.

The city’s rumor mill is saying that Mr. Cheatham is planning on running for mayor. I would like Mr. Cheatham to clarify whether he is running for mayor, or seeking a second term as a councilman, to put this rumor to rest.

I also read that Ward 2 Councilman Benny Burgess is undecided about running for re-election. I asked Mr. Burgess to not run for another term as a councilman.

He ran and won his first term promoting government transparency and accountability. He has failed miserably on both accounts.

I also ask Mr. Burgess, if he decides to run for re-election, to resign from the Franklin Redevelopment and Housing Authority. I feel that City Council members should not serve on the FRHA board because this undermines their ability to hold the housing authority accountable to the city.

The article also states that Vice Mayor Raystine Johnson, who represents Ward 4, did not return a phone call. I also ask the vice mayor to inform the community of her intentions to run.

The rumor mill is saying that she is not planning to run. Johnson should promptly inform her constituents of her intentions, which will allow her ward to find a suitable replacement for her. If she plans on running, I ask her to reconsider and not seek re-election.

In her Tidewater News column (“Race-based agendas cannot move Franklin forward,” Aug. 3) Vice Mayor Johnson said that she voted against increasing the budget of the Department of Parks and Recreation because we must cut spending and we must cut it now to prevent our city from creating deficits requiring higher taxes and future debt increases.

The vice mayor voted against the desires of her ward as presented to her and council through petition and representation of community leader Bishop Linwood Johnson.

She also said that they do not agree with City Councilman Greg McLemore because he has his own agenda, and that Mr. McLemore is not a team player.

The vice mayor’s team on the City Council is Mayor Jim Councill, Benny Burgess and Barry Cheatham, and I cannot find anything substantial that her team has done for her ward. If they have done something for her ward, her team should speak up now; otherwise she should just step down and give somebody else a chance.

She also stated that she did not have the time to deal with petty racial issues without clarifying which racial issues she considered petty, but her record shows she has time to pursue the “good old boys” agenda as offered to her by local attorney Jim Rainey.

If Councilman Burgess says it, Vice Mayor Johnson does it, and he has not said anything that meets the needs of her ward. Burgess and Johnson should both go.

THOMAS H. COUNCILL JR. is a Franklin resident and regular attendee at City Council meetings. He can be reached at thomas_councill@hotmail.com.