Mayor steps down, interim named

For the next few weeks, a Franklin City Council member will continue working his full-time job while also making decisions about city road projects and developments.

Steve Barnett was named city council president and interim mayor Monday, replacing former Mayor Joe McGuinness, who stepped down to lead the Indiana Department of Transportation.

By Tuesday morning, Barnett was meeting with city department managers and signing documents to make sure city services continue and no projects are stalled or overlooked, he said.

On his to-do list: overseeing $40 million in infrastructure projects, including continuing work to rebuild Jefferson Street through downtown, making sure potholes are filled and city streets are salted and securing a former motel property on the east side that could be a key part of a potential new development, he said.

Barnett is leaning on his eight years of experience as a city council member, including five years as city council president, and his five years on the city board of works to help take over leading the city, he said.

“I was there from the very beginning of all these projects. I know exactly where all these projects are at, I know what stages they are in,” Barnett said.

“We are continuing to do what we need to do.”

He described his role in the next few weeks as piecing together the puzzle of work McGuinness already had started.

McGuinness resigned as mayor after he was appointed by newly elected Gov. Eric Holcomb as commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation. McGuinness attended the city council meeting Monday night to share how his new job came to be and to thank the community. He said he began discussions with Holcomb about two weeks ago, and since then, he had given a lot of consideration to the opportunity.

“It was the most gut-wrenching and difficult decision I’ve ever had to make,” McGuinness said.

He thanked city council members, staff and residents for the accomplishments of the past five years.

“The opportunity was there, and I could not pass it up, to take what we have implemented and what we have done here for the city and to take it to the state level,” McGuinness said.

McGuinness said he will continue living in Franklin and will help with the transition when a new mayor is selected to lead the city. A new mayor will be selected at a caucus by Franklin Republican Party members later this month and will serve the remainder of McGuinness’ term, through the end of 2019.

Barnett wants that job and has begun campaigning with precinct committee members who will make that decision. But for now, he is focusing on the next few weeks, he said.

He works full-time for Miller Pipeline, but his job is flexible so he is continuing that job while also serving as interim mayor, he said. He has told department managers to reach him whenever he is needed. In his meeting with managers Tuesday, Barnett wanted to reassure everyone that projects and services will continue as usual, he said.

In between his work for the pipeline company, Barnett also is spending time at city hall and at city events, including welcoming students to Franklin that are visiting from Kuji, Japan. If he is selected at the caucus to serve as mayor, Barnett said he plans to retire from his job with Miller Pipeline and from racing.

Author photo
Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.