Franklin Enters Precinct 1 Race

Announces for Commissioners Court at Victory Grill

Richard Franklin
Richard Franklin (Photo by Michael King)

Saying “I’m not perfect” and “I’ve made mistakes,” Richard Franklin III became the second candidate to announce his intention to replace retiring County Commissioner Ron Davis in the Precinct 1 race, Monday evening at the Victory Grill. Franklin asked his audience to “help me be a better man” and to “uplift everybody in Travis County.”

Franklin, local president of Christian educational nonprofit Youth Unlimited, works to find educational and social alternatives for at-risk students. He’s served on the Del Valle school board, and also cites his experience with the Travis County Democratic Party and the Black Austin Democrats. He said he was moved to run in part by a youngster who told him recently, “We have no hope.” He said he didn’t know the answers for that young man, but that he wants to reach out to the Travis County community to help find those answers.

Franklin ran against Davis in 2012, receiving 16 percent of the vote in a four-candidate race. (More recently, he was a consultant on Laura Pressley's ill-fated District 4 City Council campaign.) This time around, he told the Chronicle, he considers a “mea culpa” campaign, because “I’ve hurt people” and “there’s so many people I need to apologize to” (he began with that as well with this announcement audience). He’s known as a combative personality – his friend Rev. Landon Schultz, introducing Franklin, described him wryly as “forthright” but with “a huge heart.” Franklin insisted that in the last couple of years (specifically following a frightening and painful bout with cancer) he has “come from a dark place” and has begun “a process” to change his approach to other people, and to “learn what they’re going through” before attacking or “sniping at each other.”

In terms of policy, he translated that vision into an emphasis on transparency in office – his most concrete promise this evening was to hold weekly public meetings with constituents to inform them of Commissioner Court actions, and to learn from them their policy priorities. “I’m not an expert on your problems,” Franklin said. “You’re the expert on your problems.” Beyond that, he addressed Chronicle questions about Travis County immigration and jail policy, mental health programs, the proposed sobriety center, etc., by saying he was open to discuss all of these issues but not yet taking public positions. “I want to open up the Commissioners’ office to real public discussion,” he said.

Among the few dozen supporters and observers on hand were some prominent local politicos: Sheriff candidate John Sisson, PODER activists Susana Almanza and Daniel Llanes, the Sierra Club’s Roy Waley, Debbie Russell (a Del Valle ISD trustee), Rev. Jim Rigby, Democratic activist Fidel Acevedo (who also provided a candidate introduction), and recent City Council candidates Eliza May and Andrew Bucknall.

Franklin joins James Nortey as the declared candidates for the Precinct One seat; political buzz has one or two more potential candidates waiting in the wings.

A previous version of this post incorrectly reported Debbie Russell was a former Del Valle ISD trustee. However, she is a current trustee.

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Travis County Commissioners Court, Richard Franklin, Travis County Primary 2016, March 2016 Election

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