Samantha Degrasse

Jason Potts

Michelle Sutton

 General election takes place on October 26, 2021

One-term Alderman Scott Speedy isn’t running, and three candidates are competing for his spot.

 Recommendation: Recommend Michelle Sutton who has the best direct application of her Christian beliefs to her political beliefs.  She is a Republican who supports small business and well-planned growth, is a member of Journey Church, and has taken a missions trip to Uganda.    

Samantha Degrasse: Do Not Recommend         

            Overall Rating: 65.0%

Big Government/Small Government Rating: Big 56%; Small 44%              

            Christian World View Rating: Christian 79%; Secular 21%                

Background 

39 years old

Single

Lives in Franklin; has lived in Franklin for over twelve years

Is a special education teacher’s assistant with the Franklin Special School District at Moore Elementary School; Was previously a preschool teacher for seven years before she joined FSSD. 

Is running her first-ever campaign 

In 2018, she launched Build Her a Bridge, a nonprofit that mentors girls in Williamson County. 

She sits on the art board at Battle Ground Academy and is involved in the African American Heritage Society of Williamson County. 

Big Government/Small Government 

Budget, Spending, and Taxes          Possible Score 30       Total Score 18   

Business and Consumers                  Possible Score 20       Total Score 14 

DeGrasse said that “Franklin really thrives on bringing people here” and that affordable housing is a good way to do that. She noted that many teachers don’t get paid enough to live in the city, and veterans and older residents also often can’t find affordable residences, but allowing people to live affordably will create a “cycle” of economic vitality. “Once you bring people in, they’re spending money on local business, larger businesses, and that’s what we want,” she said. (14)   

Conservative                                      Possible Score 30       Total Score 18 

DeGrasse believes that listening to one another and working together is the way forward for Franklin, and she hopes to work towards that goal in City Hall. “We can be better together. We can all work together. It doesn’t have to be red versus blue or black versus white. We can all work together, and that’s what makes Franklin thrive, and that’s what makes Franklin great is there are so many different people that live here,” she said. “We don’t have to be Franklin divided; we can be Franklin united. Ooh, I like that.” (18) 

Other                                                  Possible Score 20       Total Score 6 

Sidewalks and bike lanes are high on her list of priorities for her ward, adding that if people live near where they work and can take alternative modes of transportation to work, that cuts down on traffic. “Because there’s so many people here, our roads and infrastructure can’t fit what the demand is,” she said. “Our roads are not going to be able to function like that anymore, so if we were to create more bike lanes and create more sidewalks, people would actually be able to bike to work, and it would be better for the environment.” (7) 

Hopes to have an open door to the community, encouraging people to communicate with their elected officials when they have an issue or concern rather than turning to social media. “Once you get involved, you’ll find the beauty in Franklin of why people come here and why people believe in it so much, but there’s always room for improvement,” she said. “I just think … we all can benefit from listening to one another rather than just, if you have a different opinion than someone else, then they’re wrong and you’re right; they have a target on your back. It doesn’t need to be that way.” (6)  

Christian World View 

Abortion                                             Possible Score 40       Total Score 28        

Family Values                                    Possible Score 30       Total Score 27 

Created a You Tube video during the pandemic in which she offers the following advice:

  • “The moment you put God in a box, the moment, you think you can do it on your own, is the moment when you are operating in your own strength”
  • “You want to operate in your own strength, you don’t think you need God, then that’s when He is going to remove Himself from that situation.”
  • “All the time we say God you’re the One, Waymaker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper, Light in the Darkness, yet you’re still acting as though you can do it in your own strength.”
  • “It is not you, it is not you acting in your own strength, it is the living and active God working through you, and that is how you are going to be able to do it.”
  • “Don’t you know you can’t do anything without Him?”
  • “Lately the Scripture that has been going through my mind is 1 Cor. 12:9 – “My power is made perfect in your weakness”, for when I am weak, He is strong.”
  • “Don’t you limit God; Don’t you put Him in a box.”
  • You Can’t do anything or get anywhere without Him because you need Him a lot more than you think” (27) 

Member of Christian Women in Media and Artists in Christian Testimony (27) 

Marriage                                            Possible Score 30       Total Score 24    

Jason Potts: Do Not Recommend         

            Overall Rating: 68.4%

Big Government/Small Government Rating: Big 22%; Small 78%            

            Christian World View Rating: Christian 62%; Secular 38%                        

Background 

48 years old

Has lived in Franklin for 15 years 

Is a Health Care Manager for Parallon 

Is a City of Franklin Citizens Government Academy graduate and founding member of the Franklin Alliance of Homeowners Associations, which focuses on Ward 3 neighborhoods.

Is a soccer coach and serves on the board of directors for the Cougar Athletic Club at Centennial High School. 

Budget, Spending, and Taxes          Possible Score 30       Total Score 6   

Business and Consumers                  Possible Score 20       Total Score 5   

Conservative                                      Possible Score 30       Total Score 6 

Is a Republican   

Other                                                  Possible Score 20       Total Score 5  

Christian World View 

Abortion                                             Possible Score 40       Total Score 24   

Family Values                                    Possible Score 30       Total Score 20   

Marriage                                            Possible Score 30       Total Score 18   

Michelle Sutton: Recommend         

            Overall Rating: 75.8%

Big Government/Small Government Rating: Big 23%; Small 77%            

            Christian World View Rating: Christian 75%; Secular 25%                         

Background

40 years old

Married with two children

Has lived in Franklin (Ladd Park) for 8 years

Previously ran for an at large position in 2019 and lost to incumbent Brandy Blanton. 

Works as product director for UnitedHealthcare and is on her neighborhood’s HOA 

Volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and One Generation Away, a nonprofit that fights food insecurity 

Bachelor’s Degree, Speech Communication, University of Tennessee 

Budget, Spending, and Taxes          Possible Score 30       Total Score 7    

Business and Consumers                  Possible Score 20       Total Score 5 

Wants to be a voice for residents and business owners in a part of the city experiencing some of the greatest growth. “We have a great plan in place with Envision Franklin, and there are a lot of individuals and city staff that were important and instrumental in crafting that document,” she said. Her goals include, “sticking to [Envision Franklin] as much as we can, and making Franklin sustainable and a great place where people want to continue to live.” (5) 

Though she said she will be an advocate for growth, Sutton explained her concern with the rate of growth and how it’s affecting residents and funding for schools. Before approving future developments, Sutton wants the board to be able to see a consistent projection of how that development will affect the surrounding areas and infrastructure. “Capital investment projects need to be calculated out, with comprehensive information presented as part of a development plan,” she said. (5)

Sutton is running for Alderman Ward 3 to serve the people and businesses in the southern part of Franklin and to be a voice for smart, strategic growth for the community. She is passionate about dedicating her time, serving the City as a committed and engaged leader and advocating for the families and small businesses of Franklin. (5) 

Sutton believes that the growth numbers are exciting, but cause challenges for our current infrastructure, housing and schools. Sutton believes it is the Alderman’s job to be smart about the rate of growth so Franklin can remain one of America’s “best cities to live, successful, supportive of its residents and a special place to call home.  For the past eight years, Sutton has had a front row seat for significant change, growth and development – proposed and completed – in Franklin. Most is happening in our own backyard in Ward 3, and we need a leader with vision to plan now for the future we want for our families in Franklin. (5)     

Conservative                                      Possible Score 30       Total Score 6

Is a Republican (6) 

Other                                                  Possible Score 20       Total Score 5

Maintain the same quality of life that originally drew her to Franklin – “maintaining the same quality of life that originally drew her in – “People are hospitable and willing to help; they’re compassionate and kind,” she said. (5) 

Sutton plans to back infrastructure projects, mentioning the Long Lane and Old Peytonsville Road connection as a key project she wants to see move along. Development along Lewisburg Pike is another area of interest. Though it’s a state road, Sutton sees it as a city issue, in terms of safety for residents during continued growth in the area.  A third area she wants to address is purposeful communication between the city and the county.  “There have been several instances where there are a lot of things up for discussion, and I’d call the county commissioners, and they’d have no idea what’s going on,” Sutton said. She is hoping to develop a communication method more consistent than what is currently in place. The board receives infrequent communiques from the county commission during BOMA meetings. (5) 

Infrastructure – With growth comes the rise of traffic and congestion. Sutton will make sure to look at the rate of growth and what infrastructure is currently supporting those areas. Sutton believes we need to make sure the roads are wide enough, the traffic lights/stop signs are in place and where we are placing commercial development is the right place. Sutton understands the need for the Long Lane overpass, Carothers Road extension, future expansion of Lewisburg Pike and Columbia Avenue in south Franklin. She is committed to exploring solutions that are the best for all Franklin residents. (5) 

Collaboration – Sutton prides herself on collaboration with others though the workplace, volunteering and community engagement. She wants to bring more collaboration, communication and greater transparency to relationships and workings between the Board of Mayor & Aldermen, County Commissioners, Williamson County Schools & Franklin Special Schools District. The rate of growth of homes in Franklin directly affects the school systems and infrastructure/county and state roads. Williamson County is consistently ranked number one in the state for our school systems and Sutton wants to keep it that way. Sutton will work to actively have open communication and dialogue with the school systems regarding large-scale neighborhood developments that will directly impact the population of the schools. Does something like this belong here – Sutton is tuned in to the needs of local teachers and families with school children and foresees overcrowding and large class sizes as a consequence of fast and ill-planned growth. Sutton will advocate for schools where they are to be impacted by development. (5)   

Christian World View 

Abortion                                             Possible Score 40       Total Score 30  

Family Values                                    Possible Score 30       Total Score 25 

Through Village of Hope Uganda, Sutton sponsors a child to support his school and living expenses, and she visited Africa in 2011 for a mission trip. During that mission trip, she served as a volunteer, teacher and friend for the 100+ children and staff living at the Village of Hope outside Gulu, Uganda. Compelled by a God-centered heart for orphans, Village of Hope (VOH) rescues the lives of former child soldiers, sex slaves and their younger siblings orphaned by war. VOH provides a safe haven for healing and hope for a future. Our approach is designed to prepare and inspire VOH young men and women to become productive citizens, ethical leaders and beacons for Christ within their communities and country. (27) 

Member of Journey Church in Brentwood (23) 

Marriage                                            Possible Score 30       Total Score 20