Some who run for office do so to enact sweeping changes or reforms.
Gabrielle Hanson, who is running to represent Franklin as an alderman at large says she's instead running from a preservation perspective, and argues that maintaining sustainable growth and fiscal responsibility are the best tools to do so.
A realtor for more than 20 years, Hanson moved to Franklin in 2012 from Chicago, Ill., with her husband and two daughters.
Hanson also serves as the political coordinator to State Sen. Majority Leader Jack Johnson with Tennessee Realtors, serves on the Tennessee Realtors Government Affairs Committee, and was recently named Best Realtor in Middle Tennessee by The Tennessean.
"I want to be a part so that we don't lose that little pixie dust magic Franklin has"
While Hanson has been involved in politics for years — working with Sen. Johnson, serving on the Tennessee Realtors Government Affairs Committee and more — she has never run for office before, until now.
"When I moved here, I was very interested in the [government] process [here in Franklin] because the community was so dynamic and vibrant, and politics do craft and shape the economy, society and culture," Hanson said. "I wanted to be a part of it so that it it was maintained and so that we don't lose that little pixie dust magic that Franklin has."
Hanson's pitch to preserve what makes Franklin, Franklin was to maintain a level of sustainable growth; things like preserving the city's rural character while properly funding adequate infrastructure.
Hanson also vowed to work on attracting more multi-national corporations to the city as to diversify the city's tax base and keep property taxes low, and made the adequate funding of police and fire a key complement in her plan.
With regard to attracting more corporations to the city, Hanson said that while she is supportive of the concept of government subsidies to incentivize commercial development, Franklin's desirability has moved the city beyond the need for such tools as tax abatements and TIFs (tax increment financing).
When asked what she viewed as the largest issue pressing Franklin, Hanson said it was the city's outdated City Hall.
"The building that we have now is well past its useful life... there's functional problems from the layout to construction," Hanson said. "It is in the works to be replaced, and I know this is a pivotal year to go ahead and move forward with the final location."
While current plans call for a new Franklin City Hall by 2024, Hanson said it was the process by which a new City Hall would be constructed that concerned her.
"The big concern I have is cost containment because government tends to not be in the business of conducting business, but in the business of conducting government — those commercial contracts and stipulations, something may start out at $25 million and before you know it's $42 million when they're done," Hanson said.
"That's something I would really love to be a part of and watch closely. Even if I'm not [an] alderman, I would love to be part of that community process and give my two cents on it."
Furthermore, Hanson said her experience with commercial and residential real estate would help her be more effective as an alderman in making growth and development decisions.
Another topic that has been highly discussed among Franklin residents is the unprecedented increases in housing costs, with the Zillow Home Value Index finding the typical home in Franklin selling for $664,326, a 28 percent increase over 2020.
Hanson agreed that the housing costs in Franklin were "out of control," but argued that Section 8 housing assistance — a federal program that offers rental assistance to families who make 30 percent or less of an area's median income — was not "a wise investment for a community to make" and not "the answer for Franklin."
Instead, Hanson argued that offsetting "a few units" in a particular development for low-income housing would be a more ideal solution to helping lower-wage earners live within the city.
"I think we can put our hands together as public and private [entities], work with developers to possibly offset a few units in a development," Hanson said.
"Now we're never going to have a mass development; there's not the land unless somebody wants to donate it, and the cost of materials has skyrocketed. There is a condo development coming for 80 percent income averaging for the year, that means 80 percent of the median income in the area — which is still $90,000, a lot of money — [but] at least there is something in the works."
"Is it a single-family home with the backyard for dogs and kids? No, but it's something."
Hanson also pointed out that the development is deed restricted, meaning that regardless of the property being sold, every potential resident must meet the income restrictions.
The upcoming Franklin election will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 26, with early voting going on now through Oct. 21. Click here to see if you're registered to vote, and click here for more information on the Franklin 2021 election.