Thursday, October 29, 2015

Franklin Candidate for Town Council - Jim Gianotti

Our schedules did not align to meet in person so Jim Gianotti and I conducted our discussion via email. The results are shared here.

FM - What is your Franklin Story?

Gianotti - My Franklin story started 20 years ago this month when I was offered a job by IBM to work in its Waltham facility. Being the first of a large family to pick up our roots and move away from the homestead was frightening at first. Jeannette, my wife for over 32 years and I turned it into an adventure with our young children James III and Sean. 
This was going to be a family decision, so the boys came to every house we looked at. We could have moved anywhere east of I-495 and even southern New Hampshire. In total we looked at dozens of homes in dozens of towns. Although we made it as fun as possible for the boys, Jeannette and I knew we were making the most important decision in our lives to find the best community to bring up our boys. 
The last town we visited was Franklin. As we drove through for the first time on Main Street we noticed the brick school house, St Mary’s with the school, Dean College, Franklin Library and the downtown movie theater. The house we looked at was perfect but was out of our budget. 
We decided to stay in a hotel for a couple of days to learn more about Franklin. One of the first things I wanted to learn was the culture of the town. I was told that Franklin had a very high Italian population. Being of Italian descent for both Jeannette and I, it was very important to keep our family traditions, culture and fit right in. With no computer in hand back then I investigated the old fashion way, I opened up the Franklin phone book and to my surprise I saw lots of Italians. The next question was can they cook Italian? 
The next couple of days we had our own taste of Franklin. We got subs from De Vitas, went to The Rome for dinner, and then went to see a movie downtown. The next day we went to Church at St. Mary’s before leaving, we picked up a couple subs from Ferrara’s. 
We decided on our way home that Franklin was the best place to bring up our boys. With the new school almost finished, taxes very low back then, a great downtown and magnificent church, we decided to tighten our belts for a couple of years and buy the home of our dreams. For 20 years now Franklin has been our home.

FM - What do you see as the challenge for the position that you are campaigning for?

Gianotti - I think the biggest challenge is going to be rebuilding the trust with the Franklin residents and their local government. I have talked to hundreds of Franklin residents and their biggest complaint is lack of transparency and openness with the current town council. What I concluded from further discussion was that it’s not that all the decisions that the town council were making were all bad, but the speed, lack of dialogue and lack of timely communications with their constituents is paramount on their minds.

Franklin residents clearly want to be involved in the bigger decisions, in some cases directly with their vote. Examples I have heard are the marijuana factory, buying the building on Beaver Street for the recreation department, and most recently the Franklin Library. These types of decisions should be brought to the people for a vote. This council has no problem bringing forth a prop 2 ½ override for basic road repairs but refuses to engage its citizens fully on other items of most concern to them. Yes, this council for most items goes through the minimum processes to get approvals, but residents expect and deserve more than the minimum.

The citizens of Franklin also expect that their fundamental services such as roads be prioritized over nonessential projects in budgeting. I have driven many miles on Franklin roads in the past couple of weeks putting up almost 100 signs, and the roads are atrocious. This isn’t a problem that came overnight, for many years now the problem was well known, but the current and past councils have pushed the proverbial can down the road. With a budget now exceeding $1oo million and a budget that has grown 28% since 2007, one would think they could find resources to keep the roads up to standards.

FM - What do you bring to the position that would set you apart from the other candidates?

Gianotti - First of all, I know the biggest differential factor is I am against all operation prop 2 ½ overrides. I have fought against every one of them. To me it’s just poor financial planning. Like most Franklin residents, I see through the rhetoric and scare mongering. You all remember the rhetoric from past overrides, where it was said we’re going to have to close the library, our services are going to be decimated, and classrooms sizes are going to be unmanageable. Today Franklin is one of the best places to live along with one of the safest without all the overrides and because of you, the Franklin voter, saying NO to overrides. 
With this present sitting Council the Annual Update list potential issues for 2015 and the future such as Balancing the budget, Roads, Water improvements, pensions and health insurance and the list goes on, If elected I will fight against any overrides, tax increases and work for a better budget and solutions to these issues. So that we can keep Franklin Affordable to live in. 
If you are wondering why I continue to be so vehement against overrides I will tell you. I got a call one year from an elderly woman. She had found out I was the guy making the homemade signs to vote no on the override. She explained to me, in a crying voice that she had lived in Franklin all her life and if the override passed she and her husband would just have to sell their home because they couldn’t afford to live in Franklin anymore. After paying taxes all her life in Franklin she couldn’t believe this was happening to her and her husband. She thanked me profusely for my efforts. The day after the override failed she called me again. This time with tears of joy. As a Council Member I want to continue to help any resident not be in fear of a council over spending over building or an override. 
Second, as a candidate I have no personal or business vested interest except to all the citizens of Franklin. I won’t need to abstain from voting, so I can be fully engaged in all the decisions the council will have to make without the fear of conflict of interest. 
Third, I would bring in true private industry fiscal experience into the mix. You would think working for a $100 billion corporation for 20 years you would have all the money you need. That’s just not the case. Most departments in any company would be ecstatic with the thought that their overall budget would go up a minimum of 2 1/2% every year. The reality is we are asked to do more with the same or even less. My experience would bring in a breadth of programmatic skills to budget decision solutions to a mindset that continues to depend on prop 2 ½ overrides for their solutions. 
Last but not least, I would bring much needed change. However, it will be difficult to do it alone. If you are looking for real change on the council I ask for your vote, but also I ask for your vote for the other brand new candidates. Please remember there are 9 seats up for election for town council and that doesn’t mean you have to vote for all 9. If you are truly looking for a new way forward for Franklin just vote for the new candidates. Voting for just the new candidates like me will give the council the needed new blood, while maintain enough experience so that everyone combined will bring a fresh new start so that we can all work together towards these goals. 
So back to the question can Franklin Italians cook, well the 20lbs I gained in the last 20 years is a testament to the fine Italian meals I have had over the years. 
Thank you all for supporting me and I humbly ask for your vote on Election Day.

If you have any questions or inquires you can reach Jim at

Noteworthy: This information is intended to help the Franklin voters when we all head to the ballot box on November 3rd. The interview candidates have had an opportunity to review the text before publishing to ensure the accuracy of our discussion. 

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