3 battle for 2 at-large seats on Franklin council

Residents are choosing from two Republicans and one independent candidate to fill two at-large seats on the Franklin City Council.

The two current at-large members are Danny Richards and Bob Heuchan, and both were appointed to their jobs by a Republican caucus due to vacancies in recent years. Heuchan is seeking re-election and won the Republican Party primary with newcomer Shawn Taylor.

Independent Erin Davis is also seeking one of the seats. Voters will select two candidates in November. 

Erin Davis, independent

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Erin Davis, the woman behind the local Love More project, said she loves Franklin and wants to be a part of guiding the city, but sees a part of the community that many do not.

"Homelessness and poverty are real issues here, and ignoring them won’t make it go away," Davis said. She has been advocating for the apartment complex for KIC-It, and said she won’t stop working. Her goal is to create the opportunity for all residents in Franklin to succeed, however that looks. 

For example, she would like to see the city create a partnership to retain recent graduates and provide information on housing with the goal of keeping college-educated residents in Franklin. Accomplishing that would also increase diversity in the city.

She wants the city to explore offering incentives to minority- and women-owned businesses to attract more minorities to the community. If the city can give tax abatements to giant corporations, other businesses should be offered help as well. 

One of her suggestions is for the city to take more steps to broadcast all city meetings so that residents can understand what is happening without having to attend or piece together what took place from reading the minutes. 

"I am very passionate about this community," Davis said. "I want to see everyone, everyone, succeed. I want to see everyone have the opportunities they need to live a good life. I am willing to fight for the things that I think will help everyone."

Her motivation in running for city council is to bring diversity, a new perspective and different ideas. She wants people to feel comfortable that Franklin can be their home, no matter what they look like. She is not seeking the office because she has any criticism of the city, its leadership or direction. Rather, she wants to be a part of making the city even better. 

"It feels like home to me, and I want that for everyone," she said.

Bob Heuchan, Republican

Heuchan, the retired president of Mutual Savings Bank, wants to continue the rebuilding and re-imagining of the city that began after the 2008 flood. He points to improvements that have been made throughout the city with tax-increment financing dollars, and that such projects would not have been possible otherwise.

He’s proud to have been part of what he calls a resourcefulness among city leaders to have a vision for how Franklin should develop and then use the tax dollars the right way.

The result, he said, has been overall growth and increasing property values, which benefits the entire community and Franklin Schools.

But more work remains, which is why Heuchan is seeking a full four-year term from the voters.

He wants to be a part of the city completing a series of roundabouts that help trucks navigate to the industrial park and helps typical drivers too.

The city also faces challenges as a result of its success, such as traffic lights now being needed at the interstate exit due to increasing traffic.

Heuchan is quick not to take credit for any of the projects and accomplishments of the city because of the teamwork that is involved, but he is grateful for the opportunity to have input as projects are taking shape. His job as a city council member is to raise questions and bring opinions of others that he hears while talking to residents in the community, he said.

He’s qualified because of his history with city government and on multiple community organizations, such as the Good Cheer Fund. He treats people fairly, is interested in the concerns of others and wants to help whenever possible.

He also brings his experience in management, budgeting and finance.

“I’ve learned from my mentors how to treat people,” Heuchan said, noting that he makes a good faith effort to listen.

“We’re open in our meetings and how we do business,” he said. “I want to hear from people. It matters.”

He’s not interested in pushing any agenda of his own. He pledges that his priority is to help develop an invested community that asks questions of its city.

Shawn Taylor, Republican

Taylor, a political newcomer who won one of the two Republican party nominations in the spring, wants to help keep the city’s momentum on downtown development, building the new amphitheater park, redeveloping the east side and redesigning U.S. 31 with the state.

But beyond those specific projects that advance the city and make it ready for the future, he wants to focus on the youth of Franklin and get them more involved in all aspects off their community, he said. For example, when students are more involved in arts or sports, that engagement helps them grow. Such involvement is key as all communities face youth mental health issues, he said.

“I think we really need to attack that right now,” said Taylor, the vice president of sales for Pro Industries.

Taylor points to his career and community involvement as examples of his ability to help lead the city. He works in business and sales and interacts with people who have many experiences, such as coaches, school administrators and mayors. He prides himself on being perceptive of people, being easy to talk to, being active in the community as a youth coach and knowing what is going on.

He wants the city to continue to grow without losing its identity, and said one area of focus could be on improving youth recreational sports fields as one way to encourage families to choose to live in Franklin. The city could attract more people to spend money in Franklin.

“How are we going to brand ourselves in the future to attract the outside dollar,” Taylor said.

As a member of the city council, his primary job would be as a steward of taxpayer dollars, making spending decisions. He wants to help better educate the public on the responsibilities of the city council, and what authority it does not have. He wants people to feel empowered and be involved in their city government and understand what oversight the city does have on all types of issues, ranging from how to attract a specific restaurant to the contamination cleanup.

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About the job

Franklin City Council at-large

Term: Four years

Pay: $7,522 annually

Duties: Set the annual city budget, approve ordinances, rezoning requests and tax abatements, appoint residents to various boards

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Name: Shawn Taylor

Age: 46

Party: Republican

Occupation: Vice president of sales for Pro Industries

Education: Floyd Central High School, Franklin College

Memberships: Hillview County Club, 50-Man Club

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Name: Bob Heuchan

Age: 65

Party: Republican

Occupation: Retired as president of Mutual Savings Bank

Education: Franklin Community High School, Franklin College, University of Indianapolis

Memberships: Board of Directors for Compass Park, Indiana Masonic Home Foundation, Johnson County Community Foundation and Mutual Savings Bank. Also a member of the Nimble Thimbles Quilt Club, Franklin Rotary Club, Community Congregational Church, Franklin Redevelopment Commission, Franklin Elks Club.

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Name: Erin Davis

Age: 37

Party: Independent

Occupation: Printing at Crystal Graphics

Education: Whiteland Community High School 2000; Franklin College 2004

Memberships: Love More project