The Franklin Board of Mayor and Alderman could look a little different come Election Day on Oct. 22, as only one of the four races on the docket for aldermen has an unopposed candidate.
Before Election Day, the Williamson Herald wants to make sure all county voters have done their homework on the candidates vying for the board. Learn about the two facing off for Position A, incumbent Clyde Barnhill and challenger Howard Garrett, below.
A native of Clarksville, Howard Garrett graduated from Middle Tennessee State University before completing a master’s degree in theological studies at Trevecca Nazarene University.
Garrett moved to Franklin three years ago to manage an apartment complex, a job which has since moved him to Antioch for work. He remains entrenched in the community through his involvement with the Williamson County Young Democrats and the local chapter of PFLAG, a national organization to unite and support parents with their LGBTQ children and members of the community.
Though only 26, Garrett decided to run for alderman because he sees an opportunity to represent the future of Franklin.
“A lot of people don’t feel represented,” he said. “Maybe they have a different skin color or sexual orientation. I feel like I can gain trust back from those communities.”
Garrett said one of his priorities as alderman would be to ensure public and attainable housing for all.
“Franklin should be a city that provides housing for every single resident, from police and teachers to servers,” he said.
He also said he wants to work with the board to create more ways for young people who can’t necessarily make it to city meetings to become more involved in public policies and service.
On the development front, he believes in growth and infrastructure, but said, “we don’t need to say yes to all the developers.”
Garrett said his message is one that reflects the changing nature of Franklin.
“We can’t always be stuck in the past,” he said. “We can’t always do things that we used to do.”
One thing that’s rung true in Williamson County elections, especially lower-profile elections like the at-large alderman race, is low voter turnout, mainly representing the most politically engaged. In the last at-large alderman election, approximately 6% of registered voters showed up to the polls. Garrett said he is combating this by “knocking the heck out of doors.”
“A lot of people don’t feel they are represented. I want to be available for every single person,” he said. “That’s why I’m excited this is a nonpartisan race. This affects the everyday life of everyone.”
Clyde Barnhill, incumbent
A lifelong resident of Williamson County, Clyde Barnhill was born in the historic Dan German Hospital located a block away from the City Hall he’s worked in for the past 27 years.
Barnhill held supervisory positions for CPS, a gift wrapping company located on Columbia Avenue, for 39 years before they eventually shut down. He then served as director of the J.L. Clay Senior Citizen’s Center for eight years before that was rolled over into the Williamson County Enrichment Center.
But his government service began during the drought of the mid-1980s, Barnhill said, when the town went on water rationing.
“I was asked to throw my hat into the ring [to figure out a solution],” he said.
He ran on a one-year term in 1988, replacing an alderman who had stepped down.
The water system in Franklin has evolved, Barnhill said, with new water lines and upgrades to the water and wastewater treatment plants.
He admits it’s “mind-boggling” to see how the city has grown from a town of fewer than 8,000 in 1990 to watching businesses like Mitsubishi, Nissan and Schneider Electric move in.
“That’s something we never would have envisioned 50 years ago,” Barnhill said.
Why should Franklin residents vote for Barnhill again? He listed off his accomplishments, including serving on the planning commission, chairing the budget and finance committee, serving as current vice mayor and his business administration degree from the University of Tennessee in Nashville, before it became Tennessee State University.
Barnhill said he’s proud of having “created jobs and opportunities for people to come here and work.” He said he’s also pleased with how the city has handled infrastructure demands, and points to improvement projects like creating South Carothers Road as one of the most integral for Franklin.
Barnhill also noted the recent $500,000 appropriation for the Franklin Housing Authority’s Reddick Street senior housing project.
His top priority projects include the completion of Mack Hatcher Parkway and seeing the Long Lane Overpass connect across Interstate 65 with Old Peytonsville Road.
Barnhill is a widower; his wife, Betty, was a Franklin Special School District teacher for 20 years. His son, Shannon, is an administrative law judge with the state, and his daughter, Susan, is a fourth-grade teacher for Williamson County Schools.