In 2017, Matt Brown moved to the city of Franklin on a whim and quickly fell in love with the city. After watching the city's Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BOMA) deal with an unprecedented level of growth over the years, Brown said he felt there was no better time than now to help direct that growth by running for office.
A native to Ohio and graduate of Ohio State University, Brown spent his late-teens serving in the Army National Guard, and has worked in marketing for more than 20 years, primarily health care marketing.
Launching a marketing company known at BrandMETTLE in New Jersey in 2017, Brown and his family decided to travel across the country looking for both a "forever home" as well as a business-friendly community to kickoff his new venture.
Sharing his story with a Puckett's waitress in Nashville, Brown was told that Franklin was an ideal place to both raise a family and start a business. Taking the waitress' advice, Brown moved to Franklin where he would go on to open an office for BrandMettle on Main Street.
"This is the best way I can think of to serve this city"
When asked what his main motivator was for running for office, Brown said it was a matter of paying tribute to the city that he had grown to love.
"Since the moment I got to Franklin, I have jumped in tons of nonprofits, just opening my space to the community, opening my time to the community, just being heavily involved," Brown said.
"I really love this place, and I think just for me, I can't think of another way - a better way - to show gratitude for this place I love than to serve it. This is the best way I can think of to serve this city at a time when four of eight seats are turning over at BOMA at a critical time of growth."
Describing his motivation for running for office as a means to "show gratitude through service," Brown said he felt that the largest challenge the city was facing was its growth - more particularly, how to approach it.
"Everybody defines the issue of growth in different ways; for some people it's the aesthetic, for some people it's traffic, for some people it's schools, for some people it's floodplains," Brown said.
"But at the end of the day, for most people I think there's this sense that there was this time put towards developing a plan - specifically Envision Franklin - that the growth is going to happen. All that people are really asking for is can we slow it down and let the infrastructure catch up; can we have some thoughtfulness, and do we have to literally put something on every piece of dirt that exists within the city?"
Brown said that he didn't take issue with Envision Franklin - a design document for the city - conceptually, but that the frequent exceptions made to the plan for developers was something of a sore spot for the city.
"For Ward 2, [growth] is a really hyper issue because we're down to very few pieces of land to be developed... there's just a lot here, and then you still have areas that need to be thought through like the entrance way up 5th Avenue into Downtown," Brown said.
"There's very specific things happening in Ward 2 that just have people saying: what're we doing? I think for most people, they just want to know that there's a plan that we're following, and that we're not going to constantly adjust the plan on the whims of whoever asked the question."
Another highly discussed issue during this year's city election has been housing prices and the gentrification of Franklin. A member of the African American Heritage Society and a strong supporter of the preservation of the Merrill-Williams house, Brown said he has been a consistent and vocal opponent of the gentrification of Franklin.
"I'm very adamant about not gentrifying generations of people in our community who have built this community; we're talking about people who have literally been the hands and the feet of creating what a great place this is," Brown said. "It's part of what makes the full heritage and this rich culture that we've got."
In terms of pushing for affordable housing, however, Brown argued that the goal of making housing more affordable in the city was best left to the private sector, and pointed to the city of Franklin's relationships with businesses in the past as an example.
"I don't think it's on the hands of taxpayers to pay for [low-income housing] to exist, so it's going to have to be privately-led... we're really good as a community with private-public partnerships," Brown said.
"If everybody just leans in on the government paying for it, driving it [and] creating it... I definitely don't believe in that, that's a non-starter for me."
Matt Brown will be running against Angela Hubbard, Tina Pierrett and Mike Vaughn to represent Franklin's Ward 2.
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.