The new Franklin mayor promises to be a leader who collaborates, listens, gets work done and asks for help and opinions from residents.

The pledges were made by city council member Steve Barnett, who was selected as the next mayor of Franklin in a caucus of Republican Party precinct committee members Monday night.

He was chosen over former clerk-treasurer Janet Alexander. Precinct committee members selected Barnett by a 14-7 vote during the event at the Franklin City Hall.

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Barnett was sworn in immediately and begins his $80,000-per-year job. He’ll serve through the end of 2019 and can seek re-election. He resigned his position on the city council, is leaving his career at Miller Pipeline and retiring from racing.

“I’m going to be a mayor who gets things done,” Barnett said.

“I’m very passionate about Franklin,” Barnett said. “It’s where I grew up, it’s where I live.”

He wants to work closely with city departments and support them while building morale, but won’t micro-manage, he said.

The job opened when Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness, a Republican, resigned to lead the Indiana Department of Transportation. Barnett and Alexander, and Republican Party leaders thanked McGuinness for his work and the progress of the city during his time in office.

State law and local political party rules outlined the process for precinct committee members of that party to select a replacement in a caucus when an elected official resigns mid-term.

Barnett will lead Franklin for the next three years, overseeing 173 employees, a budget of more than $20 million and ultimately being responsible for public safety, street repairs, parks and recreation and the city’s sewer system.

In his speech before the caucus vote, he outlined how he was the most qualified candidate because he has managed infrastructure projects for 43 years and has experience managing employees, working with vendors, utility companies, city leaders and adding projects. He knows how to treat employees with respect and appreciation, and has the ability to hire and inspire employees, he said.

He will never lose sight of the city’s primary goal of providing essential services to its residents, he said.

Barnett highlighted the work ahead, including:

Jefferson Street reconstruction

King Street at Interstate 65 gateway

Work with the county to replace the South Main Street bridge

New trails from Eastview to Commerce drives to U.S. 31

Crosswalk at U.S. 31 and Mallory Parkway

A five-year paving program

Build a new shell building

Complete the garment factory and old post office projects downtown

Move the Franklin City Court

Remodel or replace Fire Station No. 21

He thanked Alexander for her campaign, and she said that she was not disappointed and knows that Barnett will do a fine job.

This is the second time in recent history when the Franklin mayor has been selected in a caucus. In 2005, when Mayor Norman P. Blankenship Jr. died in office, 14 Republicans selected then-Johnson County Auditor Brenda Jones-Matthews to finish the remainder of his term.

Now, the party leaders will organize another caucus within 30 days to replace Barnett on the city council.

“Thank you, and we’re going to keep moving forward,” Barnett said. “I promise.”

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Michele Holtkamp is editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2774.