The three candidates who want to serve as Franklin’s next city council member want to focus on continued infrastructure projects and bringing new, quality jobs to the city.
Updated infrastructure is an important factor when drawing businesses to Franklin, along with any incentives or tax breaks the city offers, the candidates said.
Whoever is selected in a caucus next week will serve through the end of 2019 on the Franklin City Council, helping make decisions about spending by the city and what companies should receive tax breaks when they expand or locate in the city.
Local attorney Brian Alsip, Mutual Savings Bank President Bob Heuchan and retired Johnson County Juvenile Detention Center director Jim Higdon are all vying for the seat left open on the council when Steve Barnett was named mayor last month. The next city council member will be selected by a caucus of Franklin Republican Party members on Monday night.
Story continues below gallery
One of the key issues facing the city is attracting new, quality jobs, the candidates said.
Infrastructure is one area the city will need to focus on to bring in those jobs, Alsip and Heuchan said.
Companies don’t just look at building sites when they are searching for a new location, they also want to know more about the local housing, how the city looks and the quality of life for residents, Heuchan said. Those are critical issues that can’t be ignored, he said.
“If they don’t take care of their own community, how are they going to take care of us?” Heuchan said.
Ongoing and planned projects to improve streets and other infrastructure and make downtown Franklin even better are all important to attract both businesses and people, Alsip said. If the city can attract educated people, businesses will follow, he said.
“We have so much to offer a business to come down here,” Alsip said.
The city also has and will continue using tax breaks to help draw businesses to Franklin, but companies need to be held accountable for what they get, Higdon said. If a company doesn’t meet their promises, they should face a penalty, he said.
Higdon would want to question the company seeking tax breaks or incentives to find out more about the type and number of jobs, wages and benefits and future expansion plans before anything was approved. And if Franklin develops a reputation of being true to their word, that will only help draw in more businesses, Higdon said.
Alsip wants to attract high quality jobs to Franklin, with wages that are higher than the county average, benefits and that give people paid time off, but a company bringing a large number of jobs at least close to the average wage should also be considered for tax breaks, he said.
Franklin can build off of the jobs that are already here when bringing in new ones, Heuchan said. Several local companies, especially the Japanese-based ones, already have jobs that require higher skills and training and pay better than minimum wage, he said.
Those are the types of jobs Franklin is and should be focusing on, especially since local schools, such as Ivy Tech Community College and Central Nine Career Center, are preparing students for those types of jobs, he said. Lower paid warehousing jobs don’t fit here, he said.
And while the council is involved in those decisions, the city redevelopment commission also helps make those calls, and all three candidates said that is why board appointments are an important issue.
Redevelopment commission members should be asking companies questions about how they are investing in their project to be sure they putting their own money into the project. He wants to make sure that the companies applying don’t just want a handout, and will instead be a true partner, Alsip said.
Heuchan, who serves on the redevelopment commission, said one of the main reasons Franklin is having success is because of the people serving on local boards, such as the redevelopment commission. He would want to be sure future board members are knowledgeable, ethical, successful in their own fields and invested in their community, he said.
Being knowledgeable is an important part of being a board member, Higdon said. He would want to review the résumés of board applicants being considered, he said.
Residents who want to be mayor must apply in writing by 7 p.m. today to Johnson County Republican Party Chairwoman Beth Boyce at 845 Richart Lane, Greenwood, IN 46142.
Republican Party Caucus
Franklin’s Republican Party precinct committee members will conduct a caucus to select a member of the city council
When: 7 p.m. Monday
Where: Franklin City Hall, 70 E. Monroe St.
The event is open to the public.