Retired civil servant running for Franklin council

Published 10:25 am Thursday, March 8, 2012

FRANKLIN—A Franklin native who spent 33 years working for city and county governments in the region is running for City Council in Ward 1.

Earl Blythe, 69, is challenging Councilman Barry Cheatham, 61, who is seeking a second four-year term. The job pays $7,896 a year.

Blythe, who is not related to Ward 6 Councilman Don Blythe, in 2008 retired as the social services director for York County and the City of Poquoson and returned to Franklin. He also worked for the City of Suffolk as assistant finance director and purchasing agent.

“I can serve and provide my 33 years of background and experience in local government to assist council in making decisions that are in the best interest of citizens of Franklin,” Blythe said. “I am willing to do that if my constituents choose to do that.”

A 1961 graduate of Franklin High School, Blythe said he doesn’t have a problem with Cheatham’s ability but wants to give residents a choice.

Blythe supports Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc., the city’s lead economic development agency, and would work with council colleagues to offer tax incentives to attract businesses.

He and his wife, Louise, have a daughter and two grandchildren.

In related matters, former Franklin Police Sgt. Ronnie McClenny, who had earlier indicated plans to run for the council, chose not to oppose one-term Councilman Benny Burgess for the Ward 2 seat.

McClenny said he couldn’t completely focus on all the issues and wanted to run due to a dispute related to not getting his service revolver when he left the police department.

“I decided I didn’t want to get involved with it,” McClenny said. “I don’t think I would’ve given the citizens 100 percent.”