Clerk-treasurer candidates stress access to information

The two candidates for the Republican nomination for Franklin clerk-treasurer said their goals are to provide residents more access to documents, laws and ordinances.

Clerk-Treasurer Janet Alexander is facing a challenge from Jayne Rhoades, an administrative assistant for the Franklin Fire Department. The two are seeking the Republican nomination in this year’s primary election. Whoever wins will go on to the general election, where no Democrats or independents have currently filed to run.

The clerk-treasurer is in charge of managing the city’s finances, including paying all of the city’s 168 full-time employees and about 80 part-time employees, keeping track of all legal documents, such as ordinances or city rules, and making sure all revenue coming into city government is accounted for. On an average day, dollars for investments and cash are flowing in and out of the city and managed in more than 80 funds, Alexander said.

Alexander has served as clerk-treasurer since 1999. If elected, it will be Rhoades’ first term as clerk-treasurer. Both have paid salaries, bills and managed city finances, and have lived in Franklin for decades. Rhoades worked in her husband’s family-owned business for 22 years — Rhoades True Value — before moving to the fire department as the administrative assistant. Before Alexander became the clerk-treasurer 16 years ago, she worked for the Johnson County Detention Center for nine years.

Alexander and Rhoades both said they want to make sure that the office is welcoming for residents and city officials and provide easier access to documents if residents have questions. If a resident asks for more explanation on an ordinance or wants a document from years past, Rhoades wants to provide that information as quickly as possible.

“If a resident wants information, I want to be able to find that information pretty quickly,” Rhoades said.

She said she thinks the clerk-treasurer department is running smoothly as it is, so no changes will need to be immediately made. But since she would be stepping into a new position, she would need time to learn the city’s filing system so she can provide documents to residents quickly.

Alexander wants to upgrade the city’s document storage so that a digital copy and hard copy are available for the public. That way, if someone in the clerk-treasurer’s office is sick or away from a desk, a resident can still find the document they are looking for, she said.

Although documents are readily available in the clerk-treasurer’s office now, Alexander wants residents to have the power to search for a document by keyword either at the clerk-treasurer’s office or ultimately on the city’s website.

Rhoades also wants to break down complicated rules for residents and city employees when need be. She will be prepared thoroughly before going into city meetings in order to answer any questions that come up, she said.

Since Alexander and Rhoades have each called Franklin home for more than 45 years, they understand the upgrades that need to be done throughout Franklin, including the drainage and sewer infrastructure updates and finishing the Jefferson Street construction project. Whoever wins will have the job of paying the bills and managing the invoices for those projects.

Since she came into office, the city’s bond rating has improved to a AA bond rating, which means the city can borrow money at a lower interest rate or with better terms because the city has proved that it is fiscally responsible, Alexander said. She also suggested to the city council that Franklin set aside six months of cash in a separate fund in case of emergency, she said.

“If you follow the rules (of how money can be spent), one by one, people have a greater assurance that their dollars are used wisely which is ultimately, in the end, my end goal,” Alexander said.

“Not a dollar comes into city hall that doesn’t belong to the community. I’m responsible, and I know that I’ve been entrusted by this community to spend their dollars wisely and to use whatever authority I am given to exercise.”

The Alexander File

Name: Janet P. Alexander

Age: 53

Family: Husband, Mark

Occupation: Clerk-treasurer, Franklin

Education: Franklin Community High School, Marion College

Memberships: Franklin Rotary, Franklin Homemakers, Extension Homemakers,┬áP.E.O. Sisterhood, Franklin Study Connection, Franklin Republican Women’s Club, Franklin Heritage, Discover Historic Franklin

The Rhoades File

Name: Jayne Rhoades

Age: 58

Family: Daughters, Molly, 30, and Jayme, 27; son-in-law, Shawn; and two grandchildren

Occupation: Administrative assistant for Franklin Fire Department

Education: Franklin Community High School

Memberships: P.E.O. Sisterhood, Franklin Symphonic Council, First Presbyterian Church

At a glance

About the clerk-treasurer’s position:

Title: Clerk-treasurer

Salary: $61,075.91 per year

Term: Four years

Duties: In charge of managing all monies coming in and leaving the city, store and track city ordinances, organize and schedule payroll and insurance for all city employees