A case for change in Franklin’s mayoral seat

Published 10:26 am Wednesday, April 4, 2012

By Rick Ivey

The upcoming mayoral election asks us to choose among three candidates vying for the job. As we approach the ballot box, we should each ask the question: Which candidate has the temperament and coalition-building skills to help lead the city for the next two years?

Two of the candidates have clearly demonstrated that they prefer the spotlight to actually getting something done. Raystine Johnson, on the other hand, has demonstrated a thoughtful demeanor and ability to work with fellow council members.

One only need attend one council meeting to disqualify candidate Greg McLemore from consideration. He talks much more than he listens and seems hell-bent on being the contrarian on the council. His parochial views, which he attributes to representing his constituents, in fact fail them because one standalone vote on an issue accomplishes absolutely nothing. He must build support for well-thought-out ideas to be an effective representative, and he does not.

Our current mayor, Jim Councill, seems not unlike Mr. McLemore in his quest for the spotlight and divisiveness. Consider, if you will, the events surrounding the Navy’s pursuit of the Franklin airfield. Look first at how far the project moved forward before the mayor chose to engage the rest of the council. As an at-large member of the council, with no special negotiating powers, the mayor overreached. Then, look at his conduct, especially after his attempts to bring the Navy to Franklin were spurned by his council colleagues.

On Feb. 14, 2011, after much community discussion, a clear majority again spoke against the project. The City Council left no doubt as to the intention of the council and the citizens they represented concerning the Navy’s proposed use of the airport. An overwhelming 5-2 majority said that they had heard enough to know that this proposal was not in the best interest of the community.

The mayor, whose public proclamations of “like Santa Claus” and backroom negotiations with the Navy were sent down in defeat, was incredulous. Immediately, he proclaimed that this was not “good governance.”

So, what was the mayor’s idea of “good governance”? Was attempting to negotiate this issue behind closed doors as he had tried at the previous council meeting an example of good governance? Was the mayor’s attendance at a meeting with the Navy to discuss the proposal, notwithstanding the letter and spirit of the council 5-2 vote, good governance? Was a public threat of a 26 percent tax increase as the alternative to the Navy good governance?

Despite his vote against rejecting the Navy, was the mayor’s apparent violation of parliamentary rules by adding the topic to the next council meeting agenda an example of good governance? Was his last-ditch effort to reargue the most divisive issue to confront our city in decades, after it was publicly rejected by the council, good governance? The unequivocal answer to all of these things is an emphatic “no”!

Good governance is about listening to the people. Raystine Johnson has consistently listened carefully and voted thoughtfully on the issues facing our city, keeping all the citizens in mind. She deserves this chance to lead us forward. A vote for Raystine Johnson is a vote for unity and consensus government.