In a typical election season, candidates have months to consider whether they want to run for office and how to raise money and get their message to voters.

Call this an election fast-track.

A Franklin Republican Party caucus set for later this month will select the city’s next mayor through 2019. Twenty-two people who are the precinct committee members for the city of Franklin will pick the next mayor from candidates who apply in writing at least 72 hours before the caucus.

With less than 20 days to go, at least one city council member says he definitely wants the job, and the city’s former clerk-treasurer is considering whether she wants to be a candidate.

The job opened up when Joe McGuinness, who first took office in 2012, resigned to become commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation. The mayor’s job is full time and pays $80,340 this year.

McGuinness’ wife, Anne McGuinness, and city council member Keith Fox, who were either asked by residents or considered applying for the job, said they will not seek the position.

Steve Barnett, who is a member of the Franklin City Council and the Board of Public Works and Safety, was selected as interim mayor this week and wants the full-time job. Former clerk-treasurer Janet Alexander, who was narrowly defeated in the 2015 primary election after 16 years as clerk-treasurer, is contemplating whether she wants to be a candidate, she said.

She said she is praying and thinking about the job under the time constraint of the upcoming deadline.

“Truthfully, I never saw myself at that end of the building,” Alexander said. But the encouragement and questions from some residents has prompted her to consider the job, she said.

Barnett has spoken with 16 of the 22 precinct committee members, and is working to reach the remaining six who get a say in picking the next mayor, along with vice precinct committee members, who serve as alternates. Then, he will follow up with a letter to each person explaining why he is the best candidate for the job.

His work experience and his years of involvement in city projects on the city council and board of works make Barnett the best candidate, he said. The mayor’s job is to manage department leaders and more than 150 city employees and oversee city projects, such as road work and expanding the parks system. The mayor also plays a role in recruiting new businesses to the city.

“I just feel like I am the best person for the job,” Barnett said.

Alexander said she wants the precinct committee members to have options so they make the best choice for the next mayor, because the city has made much progress but has many projects in the works that need to be carried through.

She worked as clerk-treasurer alongside four mayors, Norman Blankenship, Brenda Jones-Matthews, Fred Paris and McGuinness, and learned from each one.

“That position requires a fire in the belly,” Alexander said. “I’m searching my heart.”

Anne McGuinness, an attorney at the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office, said that a couple people suggested last week that she should become Franklin’s next mayor. At first, she considered it an outrageous idea. As more people suggested it, she began to consider the job.

“I think for me it’s more the emotions of it because I know he (husband Joe McGuinness) is leaving something really good,” she said, as she considered carrying on the projects her husband put in place and cares about.

During the weekend, her logical mind took over, and she knew she shouldn’t be the next mayor because the family has two school-age children and her husband’s new job means enormous change. She is flattered at the suggestion, she said.

City council member Keith Fox first considered running for mayor several years ago, and again considered becoming a candidate in the caucus, but has decided this isn’t the right time.

“I think my someday will come,” Fox said. “I wish it could have been now. But for the interest of myself and my family, now wasn’t the time.”

Franklin has a great group of employees and the pieces are in place to keep the momentum going, Fox said, giving credit to McGuinness and saying he will sorely miss him.

“My commitment to the city is to continue to be involved, highly involved,” Fox said.

If you go

Republican caucus to select next Franklin mayor

When: 7 p.m. Jan. 30

Where: Franklin City Hall, 70 E. Monroe St.

Deadline to apply for mayor: 72 hours before the caucus, which is 7 p.m. Jan. 27. Apply by sending a letter to Johnson County Republican Party Chairperson Beth Boyce, 845 Richart Lane, Greenwood, IN, 46142.

Author photo
Michele Holtkamp is editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mholtkamp@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2774.