Time for a change in Franklin

Published 9:23 am Wednesday, April 25, 2012

To the Editor:

Jim Councill has been our mayor for the past 16 years. He has put time, energy and effort into the position, no question.

For this legacy on behalf of Franklin citizens, he is to be commended. However, prior to the May 1 mayoral election we have considered the following:

• Chairing council meetings—As meeting chairman, Jim should be held accountable for failure to fulfill his primary mayoral responsibility per city charter — maintaining orderly council meetings. The circus atmosphere is an embarrassment to previous mayors, councilmen and the good citizens of Franklin.

• Loss of council support—Council members Benny Burgess, Barry Cheatham and Mary Hilliard have been vocal in their support of Raystine Johnson as our mayor. Why? Burgess and Cheatham describe Jim’s approach as frequently non-collaborative and divisive among council colleagues. They view his interference, not leadership, as an impediment to solving Franklin’s complex issues of schools, local employment and quality of life.

• Mayoral overreach—Jim’s handling of the Navy “touch-and-go” episode, not the issue, was consistent with the feedback from Burgess and Cheatham. He stubbornly pursued the Navy airport presence after the opposing council vote, and in the face of overwhelming citizen resistance. His overreach of mayoral authority was on par with the overreach from Councilmen Greg McLemore and Donald Blythe at the General Assembly, actions that undermined the council’s proposed city charter changes.

• Record of accomplishments—After 16 years Jim should run on his record, not his vision. Where is the record of accomplishment? This election is about what Jim failed to do, not his list of promises with the election just days away.

• Time for a change—We have respectfully discussed all of the above with Jim on more than one occasion. He chooses to disagree. We concluded that it is time for a change in support of an experienced individual, a collaborator who runs an orderly meeting and who will support, not interfere, with our new city manager.

Alternative to Jim Councill—Raystine Johnson has demonstrated considerable poise, thoughtfulness and a reasoned approach throughout her years on the council. Her colleagues agree that she is forthright, is committed to civility and chairs an orderly meeting. Councilmen Cheatham, Burgess and Councilwoman Hilliard also point to Ms. Johnson’s ability to build consensus beyond racial lines in achieving results as a cultivated strength.

Please join us in voting for her on May 1.

Chuck Lilley
Frank Rabil