Other than coming into the world in New Orleans and his time working with numbers as a math major at Penn State Behrend and then main campus, Ryan Rudegeair has been roaming the streets of Franklin looking for ways to make his hometown better. The 04 Franklin Knight graduate has worked with kids coaching soccer and track at his alma mater, volunteered with many civic and service organizations while somehow convincing his Rocky Grove girlfriend with a hankering for the city experience to marry him and settle into a small town life.
They own Buffalo Street Lanes, are parents of a youngster and are both very active in the community.
"The mayor should be aggressive," Rudegeair says matter-of-factly. He sees being mayor as an opportunity to approach others, to champion the city and seek the means of getting what it needs. "The title mayor carries more weight," he said about talking with others about the city's needs.
And those needs he sees as he looks out from from the balcony deck above his bowling alley. Infrastructure issues, such as deteriorated sidewalks, outdated parking equipment, blighted properties, playgrounds in disrepair and pedestrian amenities are areas he'd like to see improvement. He is also a fan of giving this animal-loving town what it wants. "The dog people want a dog park," he said.
He also sees areas of inactivity that need attention. Areas he would address immediately. The city manager is supposed to be periodically reviewed and, according to him, that hasn't been done in far too long. He emphasizes he doesn't have a problem with the current city manager. He just believes it's good to continually evaluate and review, something that is supposed to happen but hasn't.
Commision appointments and nominations are another area of needed attention, according to Rudegeair. "They've become stagnant," he said. "We need to get new people." For him, new people bring fresh perspectives that can bring about change and progress.
He also mentioned a need to develop a stronger way to advertise Franklin's assets and strengths, which he says can be done easier as mayor than his current position of city councilor.
"There is an odd mentality around here that 'someone' will take of that," he said when issues are brought up. "It doesn't work that way, things need to be done. I'd like more people to want to step up. But if no one else will, I will. I want to see this town grow and prosper, I don't want to wait around for someone to step up."
He sees the deteriorating sidewalks as one place he might be able to work with homeowners and businesses to find ways to do improve them while cutting down on the expense for everyone. "Can this work be coordinated better to help everyone afford it?"
He understands things pop up that are unexpected - COVID for example, which he credits the city manager for doing a great job keeping that from being worse for the city.
He'd like to see a better connection downtown from the Heights section of Franklin, where he says about a third of the city's population resides. He's looking at the idea of a walking and bike trail and also said the playground in the Heights needs an overhaul. He would also like to see the Franklin Industrial and Commercial Development authority concentrate a little more with downtown development, noting the good things they've done in the industrial complex on the other side of French Creek.
Rudegeair has served as councilor for around 10 years and is ready to step into a new role. He has a propensity for spreadsheets and numbers and his work with various organizations, he feels, gives him the tools he needs to do even more for the city.
"I wouldn't run if I didn't think I could do a better job," he said.
Learn more about Mayor Doug Baker here.
Editor's note: This is one of a two-part look at the candidates waging campaigns for the City of Franklin's mayor.
Doug Baker is seeking his fourth term as the city's mayor and he has a challenger in Ryan Rudegeair who is running a write-in campaign after narrowly losing to Baker in the Republican primary by 13 votes. Neither obtained enough votes to be on the democratic ticket.
Eight & 322 sat down with both candidates to find out what makes them tick and why they think they should get your vote next week.
In the city of Franklin the mayor is basically the voting head of city council made up of six councilors who represent the wards of the city. The mayor is responsible for running meetings and nominating members to the various commissions.
The city is run by a city manager who reports to council. Various commissions such as the Franklin Industrial and Commercial Development and Franklin Fine Arts are important for the mayoral role in nominating people to the positions.
These commissions and boards provide important infrastructure within the city workings and development.
The city of Franklin is less than five square miles with a population of a little over 6,000. It is over 95% white.
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