Two Franklin Republicans vie for city council seat

Two Franklin residents who both graduated from Franklin Community High School and lived in the city for decades are vying for the same city council seat.

Irene Nalley and Chris Rynerson are both vying for the Franklin City Council District 5 seat. Joseph P. Abban currently holds the seat but is not seeking re-election.

District 5 includes neighborhoods in the north part of the city, including those north of Commerce Drive and part of the industrial part of the city.

The winner of the Republican primary May 7 will appear on the ballot in November in the general election, where they could face an independent or Democratic challenger, although none have filed yet. A candidate could be slated until July.

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Franklin is growing rapidly, with a new subdivision being built on the southside of the city and city officials are planning projects to revitalize and revamp the downtown area. City officials are also tasked with finding solutions with a construction project on U.S. 31 and testing for and cleaning up contamination in the city that has affected two schools and numerous residents.

Rynerson has cited cleaning up contamination in the city, community and economic development and helping to keep the streets safer as his top issues. Nalley wants to expand walking trails and wants to concentrate on listening to the people in her district and staying loyal to what they want.

Rynerson wants the city to conduct more testing on sites that have seen high levels of contamination and to test sites at different times of the year. For example, he advocates for testing every site that has had contamination in both a warm and cool season, he said.

"We need to do a better job at testing and keeping these test results negative," Rynerson said.

Nalley believes the city is taking the right steps to contain and test the contamination and that the next plan should be dictated by test results, she said.

“I truly, honestly think the city is doing what they are supposed to be doing," Nalley said.

Growing and revitalizing downtown Franklin has been a goal of city officials and a project that has revitalized Jefferson Street is finishing up. The city plans to add a new amphitheater to attract more people downtown.

Rynerson wants to see more growth, but also wants the city to maintain a small town feel. He supports the amphitheater project and said that working on those projects and other amenities in downtown Franklin, such as the farmer’s market, will help businesses in the city.

He has served as a Franklin Chamber of Commerce ambassador for 15 years. Developing the community would be one of his top issues if he is elected, he said.

“This amphitheater will absolutely be great for these small, local businesses and for that small town feel for Franklin," he said.

Nalley supports the current projects that are helping to revamp downtown. She also supports businesses coming into Franklin and that the businesses will help the city grow, she said.

“The more businesses we can bring in, the more growth we are going to have," Nalley said. "It would be a good thing for us to bring in businesses and for us to continue to grow."

Both candidates also have other projects that they would like to work on if they get elected.

Nalley would like to see walking trails that connect neighborhoods in her district to Franklin Community High School. The trails would allow the residents of the district to have more access to the city by walking, she said.

Her top goals are to listen to the people in her district and to advocate for what they want, she said.

"I want to be a voice for these people," she said. "I want to represent the people."

Rynerson said the city has done great things with infrastructure, such as the Jefferson Street project. However, some issues, such as drainage issues remaining from the flood of 2008 are still affecting some residents in the city and still need addressed, he said.

"Some people on the outskirts of the city are still being affected," Rynerson said.

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Here is a look at the candidates running for District 5 of the Franklin City Council.

Name: Irene Nalley

Age: 52

Party: Republican

Family: Husband, Clinton; four grown children.

Occupation: Supprelin implant coordinator for Riley Children’s Hospital at IU Health. Also works at Lowe’s.

Education: Franklin Community High School; Indiana School of Phlebotomy.

Name: Christopher Rynerson

Age: 34

Party: Republican

Occupation: Relationship banker for First Financial Bank

Education: Franklin Community High School; Indiana University.

Memberships: Franklin Elk’s Club; Ambassador for the Franklin Chamber of Commerce and Leadership Johnson County class of 2017-18.