Create the Vote Franklin Candidates

Steve Sherlock of Franklin Matters interviewed many of the Town Council Candidates, asking the following question from Create the Vote Franklin and the Franklin Cultural Council:

“As you know, Franklin has applied to the state for an official Cultural District designation in town. What do you feel is the role of arts and culture in Franklin and what is your plan to advance that agenda?"

Here are the candidates’ responses:

Andrew (Andy) Bissanti (Candidate for Re-Election)

I am an enthusiastic supporter of the Cultural Council. And I have said that at council on many occasions. It will be my hope to find them a real brick and glass home, a building in a central location. In an Age obsessed with Technology, the Arts and Culture are now more important than ever. They benefit a town and remind us of a “Human Talent” and factor in the success of any dynamic town like Franklin, The downtown landscape continues to evolve. Opportunities will arise and I feel with my support from council it can and will happen.

Glenn Jones (Candidate for Re-Election)

For all the years that I have been active in local politics, I have been a huge supporter of the Cultural Council and Cultural District concept. I used to volunteer at the Historical Museum, and I have supported the various events that the Cultural Council has proposed. I have always believed that art, music, and cultural are the glue that hold everything else together. Without them, everything else seems to deteriorate and fall apart. 

By having a local district that encompasses all the cultural features, the Library, THE BLACK BOX, the statue park, the restaurants, etc., it becomes another tool for us to attract people to Franklin. It helps to bring in more commerce and that is a win-win. That is what community is about. We need to get out of the mentality of “what benefits me?” and get into “what benefits us?” It may not gain us a great deal of funding but it puts us on the map, on the brochure, etc. It says Franklin really is a strong cultural community.

Matt Kelly (Candidate for Re-Election)

Arts and Cultural play a vital role in our community. As a member of the Town Council I have continuously advocated for a cultural district and speak to many citizens regarding a potential cultural and arts building located close to Main St. As a Town Council, we must continue to keep an open mind about what we can do to encourage Arts and Culture in Franklin and work quickly when opportunities are brought before us. 

Franklin offers an amazing opportunity with some of the businesses in our community to attract exceptional talent and artists to our community. We (the Town Council) need to continue to support and push to make Franklin a location for all people to visit, live, and work within our great community.

Mickey Whitmore

I’m really excited about the prospect of Franklin having an official Cultural District designation. Not only do my wife and I appreciate the arts, but anything that could potentially promote jobs and new business in our community is a plus. I would plan to support this initiative to the fullest. Potentially keeping and reusing our old buildings would further preserve our towns history, and maintain some of the character.

Tom Mercer (Candidate for Re-Election) 

Experience tells me that arts education and on-stage performing provides lasting life skills such as discipline, teamwork, communications and social skills that our students carry throughout their personal and professional lives. The recent Stanford University study “Engaging the Arts and Creativity” states that involvement in the arts fosters creativity. Arts education is traditionally thought of as the formal process of developing skills and knowledge in an individual through schooling, instruction and training. 

I support the mission of the cultural district to generate an increased awareness of the cultural facilities in our town. These cultural districts help local arts, humanities, and science organizations improve the quality and range of their public programs so that more local families can benefit from them. They enhance the experience for visitors and thus attract more tourist dollars and tax revenue. And they attract artists, cultural organizations, and entrepreneurs of all kinds—enhancing property values and making communities more attractive.

Melanie Hamblen

Well first of all, I think the fact that we have so many really interesting cultural organizations in town is really exciting to me. For me as a small business owner, one of the things I think about is that you can get people excited to come downtown, to shop, to go to shows, then they're going to eat in the local restaurants and it's just a great thing for the local economy. So I feel like arts is not only a quality of life thing; it really helps us all pay for our life. It's really exciting that there's so much stuff going on in Franklin that has this really good quality; it makes you feel good. I need to use my background again here to learn more about the funding of the Council. I don't really know much about it. But I think it's a wonderful thing and I'm for it all the way. 

Eamon McCarthy Earls

It's a great opportunity to invigorate the downtown as a destination for residents and for visitors from out of town. The exact shape of it will evolve over time, but between the town museum, our historic library and the resources of Dean College, as well the Franklin Art Association, we have a great foundation.

It's both an economic development opportunity and a chance to increase the quality of life for residents through new opportunities for visual arts, performing arts. Our existing town codes could be seen as blocking the creation of certain art galleries and antiques businesses that might otherwise be a great element in a cultural district.

Judith Pond Pfeffer (Candidate for Re-Election)

Franklin is situated and contains all the features of a community with cultural components. We have a Performing Arts center, we have a college, we have two train stations, two exits to 495, we are located half-way between Boston and Providence. We have a plethora of activities in the arts, we have a very active art association, we have music studios, we have dance studios, we have movies shown at the town beach in the summer, we have music nights on the town common during the summer months. Our Downtown Partnership is extremely active in seasonal activities and in downtown activities. The Town Council has worked closely with and has allocated our town planner to work with the Cultural Group to get this designation forwarded.

Candidates Robert Dellorco (Candidate for Re-Election), Peter Padula (Candidate for Re-Election), Deborah Pellegri (Candidate for Re-Election) and Patrick Casey could not be reach for comment.

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