The population of Franklin has grown by more than 15,000 residents in the past 10 years. Near the tail end of the last decade, city leaders developed Envision Franklin, a design document for the future of the city.
Patrick Baggett, who is running for the Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen to represent Ward 4, says he wants to tweak Envision Franklin to ensure the city retains its character amid continued growth.
Born in Decatur, Ala., Baggett moved to Franklin in 2013 and has worked as an insurance broker for 12 years, acting as the vice president of USI Insurance. Baggett is involved in a number of community and nonprofit organizations, including being the board president of Franklin Tomorrow, the vice president of Franklin's Charge and a Sunday school teacher at Christ Community Church.
"We have to maintain our rural character and quaintness of our town"
When asked what his largest motivation was in running for office - something he has never done before - Baggett said it was his own investment in seeing Franklin retain its quality of life for years and decades to come.
"It's a very critical election - four current city aldermen are not running again - so I knew this was going to be a consequential election for our city," Baggett said. "I've got three young children and I'm highly invested in our business, our family, our church and this community and I felt like I could do it a good job steering the future of Franklin."
Franklin's pace of growth, Baggett said, was the largest hurdle currently facing the city.
"What I hear is, people are really concerned about getting to a place where we have runaway growth," Baggett said.
"A lot of people feel like we're at a tipping point, and I think that's the biggest issue: just making sure that we apply the reigns and that we don't overgrow; that we maintain the character of the growth we have to maintain our rural character and quaintness of our town."
As far as how he would tackle that hurdle, Baggett said he would like to "tweak" Envision Franklin to make it more consistent with the wishes of his constituents.
"Naturally, I just love history, so preservation is important to me, so making sure that our developments that come through are at the highest standards from an aesthetic standpoint," Baggett said.
"Personally, I think we need to refresh Envision Franklin, I think we really need to amp that project up and make sure it fits the views of the current community. I want to make sure that it has the standards in them that the new board expects and what citizens have vocalized to us that they expect, [and] make sure that matches up."
Baggett added that if elected, he would like the city to engage more with the public through meetings or otherwise to gather a more accurate understanding of the community's wishes in terms of growth.
"I think there are inherent problems with the plan that don't line up with what the community is telling me at least," Baggett said. "So I'm not really wanting to follow a plan that isn't matching up with what the citizens [want]."
Regarding economic incentives given to companies in exchange for the economic impact they would bring, Baggett argued using taxpayer dollars towards such things would be "a bit irresponsible."
"New companies coming to Franklin, I personally don't think we're in a position right now where that is something the city would do," Baggett said. "We have more demand of people that want to be here than supply of houses and infrastructure, so I think it'd be a little bit irresponsible to do that."
Baggett expressed similar feelings toward his view on how to make housing in Franklin more affordable, arguing that while he was in favor of incentivizing businesses to develop lower-priced homes, he was not in favor of mandating them to do so, or to use taxpayer dollars toward its development.
"We've got great partners in the community like Franklin Housing Authority, churches and other nonprofits that work hard... there are things though that government can do to support those existing communities that have been here for a long time, and I do think it's incumbent upon the city to make sure we don't drive everyone out that has called Franklin home," Baggett said.
"So looking at creative ways to incentivize developers to build certain types of housing is something I would be in favor of. It's a fine line between the city incentivizing and the city demanding, [however]. We want to make sure that we're taking care of those that have lived in our community for a long time, my agenda though on that is this: how I would attack affordable housing is we need to have community input and identify the problems."
Largely, Baggett said he would like to further engage with the community to be able to more accurately identify Franklin's high housing costs issue, and use that information to tackle the problem through working with the private and nonprofit sectors.
"An effective leader in this position needs to have - on day one - the trust and respect of the community to solve problems, build consensus, and I've got that," Baggett said.
"People have seen me lead in the civic community, the nonprofit world, they've seen me lead in the business community, and they know my temperament."
Patrick Baggett will be running against Elizabeth Wanczak to represent Franklin's Ward 4.
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.