Michelle Sutton

Michelle Sutton.

Infrastructure — or rather the lack there of — is one of the most frequently voiced concerns among Franklin residents.

Michelle Sutton, who is running to represent Franklin Ward 3 as a member of the city's Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BOMA), is running to ensure the city's infrastructure remains up to the task, particularly on the city's southern side.

A resident of Franklin for eight years, and of Middle Tennessee for 18, Sutton earned a bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Tennessee, after which she moved to Nashville and began working for the Tennessee State Legislature as a senate bill clerk.

Sutton works as a pharmacy product director for UnitedHealthcare, a company she's worked for for 14 years. Sutton made an unsuccessful bid for the Franklin BOMA in 2019, but believes her first political race has equipped her with the skills needed for a successful second bid.

'I believe god has called me to serve'

Sutton was quick to say that she felt called to serve her community, and that running for office seemed to be the best way to do that.

"I want to first and foremost serve the members of my community; being a military-dependent, I think that it's in my blood, I believe god has called me to serve, and that's where I get most of my enjoyment and fulfillment from, serving others," Sutton said.

"I love Franklin first and foremost, and I want to see Franklin continue to thrive, and with that I think we need good leadership — I believe that I have what it takes to lead and be a new voice on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen."

When asked what she believed to be the largest issue facing Franklin, Sutton said it was keeping the city's infrastructure up to pace with it's booming population while still preserving the community's rural character.

"I don't want [the growth] to stop it at all; it's a really great challenge to have rather than being desperate for economic develop, jobs, good schools and good homes, especially in the last 18 months," Sutton said. "So I want to make sure that we take into consideration how growth first affects our current residents and our infrastructure."

More specifically, Sutton said a large focus of hers would be on improving the infrastrure in the southern side of the city, which often acts as a gateway to Franklin's southern neighbors such as Thompson's Station and Spring Hill.

"For me it's the infrastructure, specifically within the southern-most part of Franklin; there's a few capital improvement projects that have been at the top of the list for at least two or three years and we've seen no movement on them; one is the Long Lane overpass," Sutton said.

"I think that is kind of my number one priority, and again making sure that we have conversations with our state representatives on U.S. 31, because that's getting pretty backed up as people use that road more frequently when the interstate shuts down to get to Thompson's Station, Spring Hill."

On spending tax dollars, Sutton said there were some lines in the sand she might draw.

When it came to tax abatements and other economic incentives for companies, Sutton said she would approach such proposals on a case-by-case basis.

"I think I'm somewhere in the middle; I would say that it is dependent on the company and what they're going to bring to Franklin," Sutton said. "I would have to do my research and also take into consideration what the numbers are for each of those projects."

In terms of pursuing low-income housing, Sutton said she would not be in support of using any tax dollars toward such initiatives, though she did note that she would be in support of working with the private sector to encourage such developments.

"So I am in support of [pushing for low-income housing], what I'm not in support of is using government funds to do so," Sutton said. "I'm a proponent of the free market, however, I think as an alderman we can offer incentives to companies and nonprofits that come in who are willing to build at a lower price point, and I'm in favor of that."

In terms of leading during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Sutton said she was a large proponent of individual choice, and that if elected, her leadership would reflect as such.

"Communication is one of my top-three pillars of my campaign, and so first and foremost I would make sure that the communication is clear and concise and goes out in all avenues; whether it's social media [or] through the newspapers," Sutton said.

"Secondly, I am more in the mindset that it is your personal choice whether or not you choose to stay at home, wear a mask [or] choose to be vaccinated; I think it's personal choice on all three of those. But again, I think that everyone needs to do their research."

When asked to share an example of how she might be suited to help lead the city of Franklin, Sutton pointed to an issue that was happening in her home community of Ladd Park in Franklin.

"Back in December, we had an issue out here in Ladd Park where there was a developer that was wanting to develop some land that butted up against our neighborhood," Sutton said.

"There were people that were for it, but the majority of neighborhood was against it. So myself and a few neighbors got everyone together; we used really good communication, we were really thoughtful in using facts about the project, we attended all the neighborhood meetings, and long story short, the Planning Commission turned it down."

"As a leader for the city, that's what I would do — I would ask questions, I would take all thoughts and considerations into my decision making because everyone's voice matters."

Franklin election

Michelle Sutton will be running against Jason Potts and Samantha Degrasse to represent Franklin's Ward 3.

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.