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Franklin Town Council fills vacant seat

Franklin Town Council fills vacant seat

Adam Kimsey will join the Franklin Town Council after the board unanimously appointed him to fill a two-year unexpired term. 

The open seat on the board was left vacant by Jack Horton, who was elected as mayor in November. By law, the board is allowed to appoint someone to fill the seat until the next municipal election and it doesn’t necessarily have to be someone who campaigned during the election. 

During a special-called meeting Dec. 13, Horton asked the council members to begin a discussion regarding what kind of qualifications they’d like to see in potential candidates. 

Newly elected council member Stacey Guffey said he’d like to see more of the qualities the sitting board currently has. 

“People who have a heart for the town of Franklin. People with a vision for what they’d like to see in the town of Franklin,” he said. “Even if we don’t agree on some of the details, we all have a vision. I want someone who will do their homework and make fact-based decisions that will lead to a better town.”

Council member Mike Lewis said it was important to appoint someone who is honest and has integrity.

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“Someone who will work inside and outside of the boardroom when the need arises,” he said. 

Newly elected Council member Rita Salain agreed that the person needs to be willing to do the work. 

“We need someone who wants the best for Franklin and someone who’s expressed that interest,” she said. 

For council member David Culpepper, finding someone who could be objective was important. 

“I need to be able to argue heatedly if needed with another council member and them not have personal feelings about it so we can get along,” he said. “We don’t want a homogenous board. We want different opinions and perspectives. Someone that’s not holding grudges when we move to the next agenda item.”

Vice Mayor Joe Collins agreed it was important to have someone with an open mind and who understands “that your idea may be right but may not be accepted so you have to be able to do a little give and take.”

Though the board isn’t required to appoint someone who ran in the 2021 election, they are allowed to do so. Candidates who ran and didn’t get elected were Frances Seay and JimBo Ledford. 

During a candidate forum held at the Macon County Library in October, all candidates were asked how they would go about making the appointment if elected to the board. Guffey said he would be willing to fill the vacancy with the fourth top vote-getter in the election to allow the residents to select the board member. 

Culpepper agreed that all the candidates running for office were well-qualified and would make a great addition to the board but said it would ultimately be up to the new board as a whole to make that decision.   

Salain agreed, stating that she’d like to keep it open to the public because there could be other qualified residents willing to serve that didn’t want to run a campaign. 

But ultimately, the board decided to appoint someone who’s served on the board in the past after a nomination from Collins. 

With two new board members, a new mayor and a new town manager who started in August, Collins said it would be helpful to have someone who’s familiar with the town and how the board operates. 

Adam Kimsey, who owns Rathskeller Coffee Haus in Franklin, served on the town council for one term after being elected in 2015. He was the third top vote-getter with 168 votes. However, he chose not to run for re-election in 2019.

If the board would have appointed the next top vote-getter from the 2021 election, Seay, a 30-year Macon County educator, would have received the nomination. She received 193 votes during the Nov. 2 election.

Salain attempted to abstain from the vote to appoint Kimsey, but Town Attorney John Henning Jr. informed her that she couldn’t and her abstention would count as an affirmative vote anyway. 

Following the death of former vice mayor Barbara McRae, Salain is the only female on the board now. 

“I hope we get some more female representative on the board in the future,” Horton said. 

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