Town COuncil

Term: 2 Years

ThomaS D. Mercer (incumbent)

Candidate Website/Social Media Address

Thomas Mercer - Facebook

Candidate Biography

I am a lifelong resident of Franklin, my wife and I as well as our three daughters are all graduates of the Franklin Public School system. I have successfully served you, the residents of Franklin, as a Town Councilor for the last 10 years, and the last three years as Chairman, formally as a School Committee Member for 10 years - 8 of which I served as Chairman. I was Chairman of the Building Committees for three of our largest and newest town structures – the Horace Mann/Oak Street/ECDC School Complex, the Franklin Senior Center and most recently the new state of the art Franklin High School. I served as a member of the Dean Community Council. I have served on the Franklin Country Club Board of Directors for over 20 Years. I also serve on the Franklin Performing Arts Company Board of Directors for over 30 years.

Will you support putting the override on the ballot this term? If not, how do you propose addressing the fiscal challenges set out in the FY2021 budget message?

As discussed in the May budget hearings, the Council and School Committee will have a discussion about School Finance at its October 6th meeting. Ultimately, a deeper and more widespread public discussion needs to occur on school finance and school buildings. Ultimately, it is up to the residents in town to determine how they want to address the financial situation of the schools. This is not a top down conversation, rather it's the complete inverse. CPA was a grassroots movement that led to great success so far. School finance needs to be the same.

How do you propose supporting Franklin’s small businesses? What actions Town Council should take to attract more small businesses to Franklin?

Small business support mainly comes from town staff and stakeholders working closely with the business owner to make their reality come true. I wish there was one thing that could make a huge splash, but if that were the case, we'd already be doing it. In my experience, it's about customer service and having the staff work closely with businesses to assist them through the process. I do believe the small business sector in Franklin is currently quite strong given the moment we are in. The Council gave all restaurants a 25% discount on their license renewal price this year to help ease the financial pain. The Council has also changed town bylaws on a few occasions this year based on small business feedback. Every small biz is different and with each one comes unique situations that we have to react to.

What accomplishments are you most proud of during your most recent tenure? Or, if you are a new candidate, what achievements make you most qualified for the position?

Community Preservation Act ! Maple Hill Open Space Purchase. Water Treatment Plant opening. Weathering the pandemic as well as we did in Town was no small feat and thank the staff for their heroic work all year.

What do you believe the Town Council’s priorities should be for the upcoming term?

Police Station Building Committee; Davis Thayer Resume Committee, Implementation of zoning recommendations from the downtown study, maintain our 10% affordable 40B percentage, School and DPW financial issues for those departments, a new open space plan will be needed to be done in 2023, Rehabbing the Red Brick Schoolhouse and Museum Cupola. Those are just a few of the things that are already in the works, and will be a major part of next year.

In its 2020 update to implementation of the 2013 Master Plan, the Department of Planning & Community Development (DPCD) recommended two goals related to housing in Franklin, the first goal is to provide an appropriate mix of housing alternatives for middle income workers. The second goal is to support development opportunities for low, moderate and middle income households preventing many in Franklin from being able to find affordable housing. Are you in support of these goals? Why or why not?

The Council will be taking up the Housing Production Plan in October. The staff did a great job with the plan which lays the blueprint for the next ten years of housing goals. The Town has not had a Housing Production Plan approved by the state in almost a decade. Now is the time to get that done, along with the Zoning Diagnostic study for downtown, and hopefully next year will be spent implementing those recommendations.

In the FY22 Budget Hearing, the Superintendent of Schools presented data showing Franklin falls in the 22nd percentile statewide for Net School Spending (state aid + local contribution) and 75% of districts in Massachusetts spend more, per pupil, than Franklin. Do you believe Franklin's local contribution to education should increase? Reference:

Regarding Franklin's contribution, I encourage all to attend October 6th to learn more about what this means. It's clear the trend has to change. How is a community conversation?

In its 2020 update to implementation of the 2013 Master Plan, the Department of Planning & Community Development, (DPCD) recommended two goals with regard to transportation and infrastructure. Goal one was to improve and maintain the Town’s public roadway system. The second goal is to make the Town more walkable and bikeable by creating and maintaining safe interconnected pedestrian and bicycle routes. Are you in support of this why or why not? How do you propose funding?

The Town Administrator and the staff have been working on a Franklin Greenway project which is now boiling into the Complete Streets policy, which was just approved by the Council in April. I see these issues as being a big focus of the community for the next 10-20 years. That said, the town has done a great job making us a very pedestrian friendly community with great sidewalk and trail networks.

More information from other sources

Franklin Matters Candidate Interview

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