By BROOKE WANSER
District 12 in Franklin includes a swath of land south of Murfreesboro Road, west of Lewisburg Pike and west of I-65, though some of the 37067 area code east of the highway is also included
Four candidates are running for two commission seats, including two incumbents; all in the field are Republicans.
The Williamson County primary election will be held on May 1. The general election will be held on Aug. 2.
Dana Ausbrooks, Republican, incumbent
Dana Ausbrooks grew up in Franklin, and has been a county commissioner since 2014.
Her family moved to the Franklin area in the late 70s for her father to pursue a job with CPS Industries, a gift-wrapping manufacturer on Columbia Avenue (now Fibertek, Inc.)
Though she was not employed by Williamson County Schools during the last commission election, Ausbrooks, a lawyer, now handles special education issues and contracts for the school district.
“My mom is a retired educator, so public education was important to me,” she said.
She emphasized that she wants to ensure the county school system receives enough funding to account for rapid growth.
Public safety is another community aspect Ausbrooks wants to continue supporting, from the Williamson County Sheriff to the expanding juvenile justice system.
“One of the great things about our county is it’s a safe place to raise your family, and I want it to continue to be,” she said.
As an animal lover, Ausbrooks was named to the county animal shelter task force by Mayor Rogers Anderson in the fall.
“As the population grows, we have more animals we need to take care of,” Ausbrooks said.
The county has purchased land for an animal shelter, and she looks forward to developing the new property for animals.
Aside from her career, Ausbrooks serves on the Board of Trustees for Williamson Medical Center, and with the Friends of Williamson County Animal Center, whose mission is to help raise funds for the shelter.
Occupation: Attorney for Williamson County Schools
Family: Parents, Linda and David, who live in the county; seven-year-old dog, Atticus.
Address: 2072 Roderick Circle, Franklin
Kahn Garrett, Republican*
As the longtime owner of Garrett’s Garage in Franklin, Kahn Garrett has served the people of Williamson County’s automotive repair needs for 40 years.
According to his website, he is a lifelong resident of Williamson County, and raised his children here.
In a short video posted to his website, Kahn said he is a conservative Republican. “I will not vote for new taxes, but also, I will fund our schools and make them as great, if not better, than they are today,” he said.
Occupation: Automobile mechanic
Family: Wife, Connie, children
Address: 4203 Peytonsville Trinity Road, Franklin
Visit his website here.
Steve Smith, Republican, incumbent
Steve Smith has served as a leader in local government since 1991, first as a Franklin alderman until 2003, then as a county commissioner since 2005.
He was appointed to replace Jeff Bivins, who was nominated by the governor to a judicial position.
Smith’s three grown children all live in Williamson County, which has been part of his motivation in, “providing a community where they would want to come back and have a career and raise a family,” he said.
Before his role in local government, Smith worked in the banking industry for 20 years, with an undergraduate degree in finance and an MBA from Mississippi State University. He and his wife, Diane, a former school teacher, moved to Franklin in 1987.
With children who came through county and Franklin Special schools, Smith said he wants to continue fighting the negative effects of growth on schools.
At a recent commission meeting, Smith was involved in a successful motion to create nine new positions for school resource and safety officers in the schools.
Smith is involved in the law enforcement committee, where he supports Sheriff Jeff Long’s initiatives. He also was one of the founding members of the county’s convention and visitor’s bureau, Visit Franklin, TN.
“Our tourism effort has done a lot of things here, growing the number of jobs and visitor spending,” he said, pointing to the $500 each household saves each year in taxes through visitor spending. The reduction in tax burden, he said, is, “something I’ve enjoyed and really can see the benefit to the county.”
In addition to his work with the commission, he serves as the Executive Director of the Williamson Medical Center Foundation, and is involved with the Franklin Noon Rotary Club, Franklin First United Methodist Church, and Williamson, Inc., the county Chamber of Commerce.
Occupation: Executive Director of Williamson Medical Center Foundation, Inc.
Family: Wife, Diane, is a retired school teacher. Three children, Megan, Mallory and Joel, all live in Williamson County.
Address: 404 Chatsworth Court, Franklin
Visit his website here.
Ned Williams, Republican
Originally from Florida, Ned Williams moved to the Middle Tennessee area in 1999, settling first in Brentwood, then in Franklin in 2014.
Williams received his J.D. from the University of Tennessee. Williams began his career as an attorney working in the Davidson County District Attorney’s office, then with the Attorney General. Eventually, he transitioned to working on a senate judiciary committee.
Though he has never run for public office, Williams said his background on Capitol Hill, along with his insistence upon government transparency and accountability, make him a strong contender.
Williams said he is running to reduce what he termed conflicts of interest with the current district commissioners.
“Voters should be able to have a confidence that their commissioner isn’t a rubber stamp for a particular interest in the county,” Williams said.
“Nothing should be off the table for us to meet the financial challenges that we’re facing,” said Williams.
As a flourishing county, Williams also wants to focus on directing and managing that growth, not letting it run rampant.
“I think that we need to be innovative and make tough decisions and be very careful with the money that we’re spending,” Williams said. “It needs to be guided by our priorities, and not people that don’t live here and not people who are moving here, even.”
“Growth needs to be consistent with the values that made our county attractive,” he continued, like personal responsibility, low tax burden, and limited government.
Williams is involved with his church, Fellowship Bible Church in Franklin, and as a soccer coach with the Williamson County Soccer Association.
Occupation: Attorney with McCann and Hubbard in Brentwood
Family: Wife, Laurie, is a nurse. Three daughters and one son.
Address: 212 Seneca Court, Franklin
Visit his website here.
*Editor’s note: Garrett did not respond to requests for interview.