FRANKLIN — When Jo Brown takes the oath of office Tuesday she will continue her family’s legacy of service to Franklin and beyond.
Brown is a fourth-generation Franklin native who defeated Olivia Zink in the Oct. 5 municipal election by a vote of 498-378.
A city councilor like Brown, Zink was chosen by the City Council to serve as interim mayor when Tony Giunta resigned in January following the death of his mother.
During an Oct. 7 interview at The Franklin Café, a business that she and her husband Scott opened on Central Street in 2015, Brown spoke of her decision to run for mayor and her goal of building on and continuing the work done by her predecessors in “The Three Rivers City.”
Asked why she chose to run for mayor, Brown replied that “I had been asked” by community members to do so.
“Olivia and I have a little different view on things,” she said, but they both believe in supporting Franklin schools. Also, “I’m older” than Zink, she added, and “I have more leadership experience.”
As a city councilor, “I saw where the city was going and I wanted to be a part of that,” said Brown.
“What I’m hoping to do is to offer opportunities that will set up our students after school,” she said, and toward that end is working with Lakes Region Community College on workforce development. Franklin has three large manufacturers — Watts Water Technologies, PCC Structural and Freudenberg — all of which are looking to attract new employees for their well-paying jobs, said Brown.
“Good things are happening in Franklin,” she said. “We’re moving forward, we’re making a difference, not just with the whitewater park, but for all citizens.”
The whitewater park is Mill City Park at Franklin Falls, a public/private partnership that is building the first whitewater park in New England on the Winnipesaukee River.
Mill City Park, she noted, was forecast by the state to annually generate $6.2 million in tax revenues, which is “huge for Franklin” and is being done with no municipal funds.
The mayor-elect also sees good things coming from Concord Hospital’s acquisition of the former Franklin Regional Hospital; the expansion of the Peabody Place nursing home; and the redevelopment by Chinburg Builders of the former Stevens Mill into 140 apartments.
In addition, Brown said the city is addressing long-standing water and sewer infrastructure needs.
While all options are being explored to move Franklin forward, one thing that is off the table is the municipal spending cap.
“We’re not going to raise the tax cap,” said Brown, “That’s not even being discussed.”
A long history
Since the early 1900’s, Brown’s family has worked to improve Franklin.
Her great grandfather, Thomas Mullin, was a founding member of the Franklin Elks Lodge, while her late parents Catherine (Sullivan) and Merton Tolman, were a career teacher who taught at Franklin High School and a Franklin school bus driver.
Her maternal grandfather, James Sullivan, was a dentist in Franklin for many years.
The middle of three children, Brown graduated from Bishop Brady High School. She entered the ROTC program at the University of New Hampshire where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English. Later, she earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Oklahoma.
On active duty with the Air Force from October 1976 until April 1999, Brown rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. After she retired she went to work at USAA in San Antonio, Texas. The couple, who have three daughters, moved to Franklin in 2011.
Since then, Brown has been a member of the Franklin Planning Board, the Franklin for a Lifetime City Committee, the Franklin Business and Professional Women, and secretary and co-chair of Choose Franklin.
A member of the St. Gabriel’s Parish Council, Brown was appointed to the Franklin City Council in 2018 to fill the seat Giunta gave up when he successfully ran for mayor. The following year she ran unopposed for a three-year term.