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Moore gets free pass to continue guiding city

Franklin mayor eager to finish projects, tackle new initiatives

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With Ken Moore, Franklin’s 31st mayor, not facing any opposition in the upcoming election, he can prepare for another four years in office.

Moore has been leading Franklin since 2011, when then-Mayor John Schroer moved on to become commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Transportation, leaving Moore, who was vice mayor at the time, to take his place.

“I just love Franklin, Tennessee, and my wife loves Franklin, Tennessee, and that’s why I’ve been involved in the community (to try) to make the community better,” Moore said. “I’ve got a lot of time invested already as far as projects, and I look forward to having another four years to continue those projects.”

Moore started in Franklin government as an alderman at large in 2007 after undergoing a campaign that he said was completely spur of the moment.

He had just recently retired from a nearly 30-year career as an orthopedic surgeon and was spending his time playing “a lot of golf” and traveling internationally for medical mission work to places such as Bhutan and Ethiopia. During this time, a friend of his suggested he run for alderman. And he did.

“I always thought I’d have another career,” Moore said. “I still didn’t know what that other career was going to be in 2004. I had no idea.”

Moore grew up in Nashville, in the Donelson area, and has lived in Tennessee almost his whole life. It wasn’t until he retired from his practice in Columbia just over 16 years ago that he found himself in Franklin.

“I told my wife, ‘I think I’m going to retire.’ And she said, ‘Well, great. I’m moving to Franklin,’” Moore said. “Linda’s always told me such great stories about her experience growing up here, and she still had a lot of the same friends she had in grammar school, and I never had that continuity.”

Moore said he and his wife bought a house in Franklin in 2003 and at times lived there and at other times lived in Columbia. But he quickly fell in love with Franklin, and his run for alderman in 2007 sealed the deal.

Once elected, Moore wasted no time. Seeing a need in the community, he organized a transportation summit the same year he stepped into office. Today, as mayor, transportation remains a main focus.

“The conversation is one that takes a long time to get traction, and we’re gaining traction,” Moore said. “My focus right now is multimodal transportation. We’re doing that with connectivity and sidewalks and bike lanes in addition to widening streets and adding asphalt.”

One example of this is the Mack Hatcher Northwest Extension, which will add just over three miles to the road, including a bridge over the Harpeth River, and will provide a multi-use path for biking, walking and more.

It is a high-priority project for the state Department of Transportation, but Franklin also has plenty of other road projects underway, such as the widening of Franklin Road.

“That’s such an important project in my mind because there are no sidewalks there,” Moore said. “It’ll look a lot like Hillsboro Road: sidewalks and street lights and turn lanes and all that kind of stuff. I’ve tried to put a lot of emphasis on connectivity — sidewalks and trails — and filling in those gaps.”

Moore said he is hoping to improve the city’s local transit authority and get the head times down to 15 minutes. He is also looking into mass transit for cross-county commuters through the South Corridor Study.

However, throughout his mayoral tenure, the projects Moore said he is most proud of are not necessarily related to transportation. One of his major successes was making Franklin a TVA platinum-level Valley Sustainable Community.

“I take a teeny bit of credit, but the most credit goes to all the people who got involved because we started out with just a lot of conversation about sustainability, and I saw there was a lot of interest,” Moore said.

“The bottom line is we’re saving our citizens money; we’re doing things more efficiently, like the solar field and like certain things we’ve done at the wastewater plant, which saves over $100,000 a year. Recycling came out of that, and we’ll continue to see other projects come out in the future.”

He said he is also proud of his involvement in developing the new Columbia State Community College campus on Liberty Pike.

“That particular project, I think, is going to have a long-term impact on our community and our businesses in our community and also our students in our community,” Moore said. “It’s already full. It’s a beautiful campus. There’s a lot of synergy with the business community, with the Williamson County Schools, the hospital for their programs.”

Moore said he is looking forward to a long list of capital projects the city has spent years planning. He said this planning is the key to Franklin’s success.

“We’re kind of on the cutting edge. Other cities, not only in Tennessee but all across the country, see what we’re doing, and they want to understand what we’re doing,” Moore said. “Everything we do is planned out many, many years in advance of what we think we’re going to do. And I think the key to it is, not only are we planning it, we’re figuring out how we’re going to pay for it.”

One such upcoming project is a $132 million wastewater treatment plant, a recommendation from a study conducted about 10 years ago that ensured the city was taking care of its water supply.

“The important thing with that was to make sure that what we were doing, whether we were taking water out or we were discharging from our wastewater plant, that it didn’t harm the Harpeth River,” Moore said. “In fact, we looked to improve it. And I’m very proud of that study, and we’re now implementing various recommendations that came out of that.”

On a personal note, Moore said that the Harpeth River and park land are among his favorite aspects of the city, as he explained his involvement in Friends of Franklin Parks. He said he would love to see a river walk along the Harpeth creep up on the list of top city projects.

“Probably the most underutilized resource that we have is the Harpeth River,” Moore said. “We’ve done some things. We’ve got more canoe launches, and we’ve marked the river as far as where people are along the river in case there’s an emergency — they’d be able to tell. But we need more access where people can walk along the river and enjoy the beauty of the river.”

Another project Moore has his hand in, unsurprisingly because of his medical background, is keeping Franklin healthy — focusing on obesity, activity, tobacco cessation and mental health.

He has partnered with Get Fit Franklin and Healthier Tennessee to establish a quarterly Walk Moore With the Mayor health event and is now working on a new project concerning mental health and suicide.

“Mental health is a challenge because people don’t want to talk about it; they don’t want to share their stories necessarily,” Moore said.

“I’m in the process of establishing this blue-ribbon panel of mental health experts to help see how we can message the community better and have more conversation about it.”

Moore said his medical background has not only bled into his career in government through health initiatives such as this, but in other, more subtle ways as well, such as making listening to others a priority.

“I’ve learned that it’s really important to make sure that people get to say their piece at these public meetings,” Moore said. “A lot of them say the same thing, maybe, but it’s important for people to be able to say their piece, say why they are for or against something. It’s kind of like practicing medicine. They say, ‘Listen to what they patient is telling you,’ and so I think it’s a good lesson — listen to what the citizens are telling you they want or don’t want.”

Moore said that because of this priority, he tries to make himself accessible to the public.

“I want people to reach out to me and tell them what’s on their mind,” Moore said. “I’m accessible by phone, I’m accessible by email. I enjoy sitting down with citizens. I encourage people in the city of Franklin to get involved with their city.”

Election Day is Oct. 22, and early voting starts Oct. 2. Though Moore is running unopposed, three Franklin aldermen have challengers this year. For more information on the elections and the mayor, visit franklintn.gov.

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