Last year, the Franklin NOW newspaper published a lengthy article about what who they felt was the 2007 Franklin Citizen of the Year - - Casper Green. I feel the NOW did a fine job on that article, and noted Casper's many achievements as President of Franklin Senior Citizens, Inc.
But 2007 is long gone. How about 2008?
Upon looking at other sites, I noticed that St. Francis got their 2008 Citizen of the Year published in the January 8th edition of the newspaper. Franklin's is still a big questionmark, unless of course the announcement comes out hours after this post is published.
So since at the time of this writing we don't have any announcements, I feel the need to ask all of you: Who do you think should be Franklin's 2008 Citizen of the Year? From my point-of-view, I can think of two off the top of my head; although I don't know if they would exactly be considered "citizens." Oh well, here they are:
- 3rd District Alderwoman Kristen Wilhelm - - Working in the trenches of an aldermanic campaign in the middle of what I feel was the worst winter in my lifetime, I got to know then-Environmental Commission Chairwoman Kristen Wilhelm very well. She was just an average Franklin resident for many years, and originally would tell me how much she appreciated being only that. As Vice Chairwoman of the EC all the way up until mid-2007, Wilhelm had already merged into the Franklin political realm as a figure many knew. It was her feistiness that spurred debates and literally killed the Ethics Board; Wilhelm's points against then-Planner Mary Kay Buratto happened to be one of the last (if not THE last) complaint filed before our Board. Now who knows what happened, but right on my birthday in 2007 I received a call from her telling me about a birthday present. It was the announcement I was personally pleased to hear; she threw her hat in the ring against then-Alderman Alan Hammelman of the 3rd District. And so began an early and successful 2008 for Wilhelm. She bumped poor incumbent Hammelman aside and took over the aldermanic reins of the 3rd District. People knew of her and believed in her, and put their faith in her to do the right things for their district and the city as a whole. Since then, Wilhelm has been an alderwoman of secretative strength and courage. She's no one's boss and her voting record clearly shows that. She defied the odds of a Franklin Citizens for Responsible Leadership member becoming Common Council President by chosing to successfully back Steve Taylor for the position, who was also just elected. She made several key votes, including votes that supported fee waivers for Franklin nonprofits and recently a vote to hold back precedents on future Franklin hotels. Wilhelm backs whatever side she feels is in the right, regardless of past "political conflicts." For an alderwoman to have that kind-of ability, even several months after being newly elected, is quite a distinction. While some could call her a novice, she's fitting in very well and from what I've been hearing, the people of Franklin welcome her style of leadership to the Council.
- FranklinNOW blogger Janet Evans - - 2008 started off rather rough between Ms. Evans and myself, but fortunately things eased up and after meeting face-to-face for the first time, the NOW blogging world as we knew it completely shifted. Janet went from just being focused on negative issues with the Franklin School Board to an individual who became extremely passionate on bringing in alternatives and fresh results for Franklin's students. It was this passion that most likely led her to formally announce her candidacy for an open school board position this coming April. I have already endorsed her and will keep on endorsing her until April 7th. But I think the biggest talking point for Ms. Evans for 2008 would be the whole concept of "open government." That's right, it was Janet who began knocking on doors (figuratively speaking, of course) at Franklin City Hall demanding better recording systems and other communications/constituent outreach. It was this that convinced her to purchase and then bring in her own digital recorder to every city meeting she attended for the past several months. When she'd come home, she'd go over the content and upload the recordings online via Podcasts for all of Franklin to hear. This is when residents began hearing the silly proposals and grandstanding efforts by Steve Olson...right on their own desktops. Unfortunately, Alderman Olson is a member of the Technology Commission, the very commission responsible with bringing our city up-to-date on matters like Podcasts and digital recorders. It was only a matter of time until Janet became a focal point for discussion and criticism by members of the Technology Commission, but she never let up. Providing Franklin residents with a tiny glimpse of open and transparent government, as well as working her hardest at keeping our kids well-educated earns her such an honor as Citizen of the Year.