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Franklin mayor will seek fourth term

FRANKLIN - As mayor of the city, Ken Merrifield sees himself wearing many hats - city council head, community leader and manager among them.

But perhaps most important, he is an ambassador for the city and a salesman for all that Franklin has to offer new businesses looking for a place to invest.

"I think being mayor is a very good role for me," said Merrifield, who announced this week that he is running for a fourth term.

"Franklin needs an advocate, and I enjoy filling that role very much."

Merrifield, who holds a full-time job as a financial analyst at the state Department of Health and Human Services, was first elected in 2007. In 2011, he ran unopposed.

He said he is proud of the city's accomplishments during his terms, but he hopes for better times ahead.

"The entire time I've been mayor, it's obviously been a very difficult financial time for everyone," he said.

With help of the council and city officials, Merrifield has promoted the benefits for businesses to move to his city. To that end, the council is now looking at tax incentives that could attract potential investors, he said.

Merrifield and other city leaders have been lobbying for the Northern Pass project, which would build a converter station in Franklin that would give a $4.2 million boost to the city's tax base yearly.

"That's been one of my top priorities," he said. "If Northern Pass comes to be, it would be the largest economic event in the history of Franklin."

He is especially proud of the Franklin Mayor's Drug Task Force, an effort he initiated in 2010 with the help of a five-year, $625,000 government grant. Working with law enforcement, school administrators and parents, the task force has made a difference in fighting drug abuse.

Franklin was the first city in the state to outlaw the sale of the dangerous drugs K2 and Spice, which had been sold in some convenience stores. The city also supports legislative efforts to establish a prescription drug monitoring program in the state, he said.

"The task force has been tackling the long-standing problem of drug abuse, the same problem that most communities are facing," he said.

City elections will be held in October.

Trace Adkins
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