Searching the phrase "best things to do in Franklin" on Google will likely bring up Tripadvisor, the online travel website, as the top result. Upon clicking, internet users will see a list 124-items long including historical museums, Civil War sites and distilleries.
Do the same for Spring Hill, and one will see a list 18-items long, including the Rippavilla Plantation and Rippavilla Mansion as two separate entries, The Crossings shopping district and the AMC theater.
Jason Cox, who is running to represent Spring Hill Ward 1 as alderman, wants to change that.
Originally from Michigan, Cox moved to Spring Hill a day after Christmas 2018. Having grown weary of the cold northern winters, Cox decided to make the move with his wife and two children to somewhere warmer.
With a master's degree in accounting, Cox has spent years working in the operations, business analytics, business intelligence and financial coaching industries. Now, Cox works in procurement and handles tech purchases, negotiating contracts and managing renewables.
"This is a great opportunity to speak into a lot of the changes that are going to be happening"
On deciding to run for office, Cox said that it was him gradually taking a more active role in his community that spurred the decision.
"After living in Spring Hill for a couple of years and just learning, I had started to take a more active role in the community as far as doing coaching - I was coaching kids' soccer - and then there came an opportunity to sit on the homeowner association board with our subdivision," Cox said.
"As I dug in and worked through some of the different things with that dynamic, I had come across a post on Facebook."
Cox said that he happened upon a post from Vice Mayor Amy Wurth in which she encouraged citizens to consider running for office. After looking over the requirements and talking it over with his wife, Cox decided to make the leap, and called it a "great opportunity" to help shape the city's future.
Sports, parks and entertainment
While Cox touched on a variety of topics, perhaps what he was most enthusiastic about was the idea of making Spring Hill a destination beyond being a place to live.
One way to do that, Cox said, was to "focus on bringing more business" to the city.
"Whether that's the high-profile restaurant or it's a company that's looking to set up shop with some offices, I think we need to focus on bringing more of that to Spring Hill," Cox said.
"I would love to increase the amount of entertainment that we have in Spring Hill; I want it to be a place where when a tourist or your family member comes [by] and you Google 'things to do in Spring Hill,' you're not being directed to one of our other communities, you're being directed to Spring Hill because we have it. That is what's lacking right now."
Another way to further carve Spring Hill out as a real destination, Cox said, was to increase the amount of park space.
"I definitely want to see an increase in our parks and being able to purchase some land and put in some spaces that families can feel comfortable to go to," Cox said.
"With the number of people we have coming to Spring Hill, we just don't have the available space for kids to play in parks. Furthermore, when you look at Fischer Park, right now kids that want to play soccer and football, we're juggling what days and times we can play. It's a beautiful park, but we have a lot kids that want to play sports and we don't have enough space for it."
Further highlighting the city's lack of sport accommodations, Cox said if elected, he would push hard for a sportsplex to be constructed in the city.
"So I would love to see a sports complex come in to Spring Hill and be able to take center stage and have soccer fields and baseball fields," Cox said.
"We don't have baseball fields, we're trying to go into schools to play on their baseball fields. With the weather down here almost being able to play year-round, I think it's critical that we start to build and have that as opportunities for kids to play."
Another focal point for Cox was the idea behind a cohesive, unified Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Cox said that such would be critical given the number of big decisions that lie ahead, with one in particular coming almost immediately after the election.
"One of the things that I see as a very high-priority thing, as a board we have to be spot on when we hire the city administrator - that is an extremely important position for this city because that position will then hire some of the other high-level positions that we desperately need," Cox said.
"I think that is going to be one of the top priorities for the board come April, to hit the ground running and hire the right person for that position. To build on that, if I'm elected, what I'm really focusing on is making sure that our board is cohesive and that we have the common goal to really work together and to make sure that we have the same thought: make Spring Hill the best city to live in."
It would be a stretch to find someone in Spring Hill who doesn't have at least one concern over infrastructure, and Cox was no exception. Nevertheless, Cox said that equally important as roads was improving the city's sewer system, something that has seemingly been pushed to its limits in recent months.
"I know the first thing people throw out there is traffic and the roads, and the nice thing is the roads are on a plan to be taken care of," Cox said.
"Obviously everybody wants the roads to be done all at one time, that's obviously not going to be feasible, but stepping away from focusing in on roads, one of the things that we really need to look at as the city grows is the water and the sewer."
"We're operating on some old technology, and we have to start looking at that. As this city grows, we have to make sure the sewer and our water system can handle that."
The golden rule
The foundation to achieve all of this relied on one thing, Cox suggested: the ability to treat people with respect and by extension, get things done.
"The mission statement for me is really to treat other people how I want to be treated, and I think that's huge in a role like this where you're dealing with multiple personalities, you're dealing with people of various business backgrounds," Cox said.
"If you stand firm and treat people with respect, you're going to get the respect back, but if you start to treat somebody as something other than an equal, I think that's where things start to go in the wrong direction - that's not what we need for the city of Spring Hill.
"I really think with my various backgrounds that I can sit at the table and be objective, detail oriented, ask the appropriate questions and make the decisions that are needed to further Spring Hill and to make this a great place to live."
Cox is just one of nine candidates running for office in the upcoming city election, and will be running against Lee Elder to represent Spring Hill Ward 1.
Early voting will be from March 19 to April 3, with Election Day landing on Thursday, April 8. The last day to register to vote is March 9 — click here to register to vote online.