Note: This is the fourth of five TownTalk segments to provide election coverage for the upcoming Oct. 10 municipal elections in Henderson. Today, we’ll hear from the candidates for the Ward 3 at-large seat.
WIZS posed the same questions to all 17 candidates running for the five races – mayor, Ward 1 and Ward 2 seats, as well as the at-large seats in Wards 3 and 4.
Some of the candidates responded to the questions in written form and others were recorded in phone interviews and their responses were transcribed for inclusion in this story. Online readers will notice direct quotes in the answers; information not in direct quotes is paraphrased to provide concise text and readability.
The candidates’ responses appear in alphabetical order, beginning with Kory Franklin and continuing with Michelle Horner Wood. Candidate Michael Venable did not provide any information, despite numerous attempts to contact him by phone, text, email and hand delivery of a written request for information.
Early voting begins Thursday, Sept. 21 and ends Oct. 7.
1. Why are you running for elected office?
Kory Franklin: “Family and accountability are not just values to me; they are the very essence of my commitment to public service. I come from a family deeply dedicated to city governance, and I’ve witnessed firsthand the incredible impact of community-driven initiatives that address the real needs of our people. I firmly believe that Henderson has the potential to become a thriving city, but it begins with us. To address the challenges and opportunities before us, we must first embody these core values of family, accountability, self-respect, and respect for others.”
Michelle H. Wood: “I am running for City Council Ward 3 at-large. I am here to listen to the people and be a voice for them. The citizens of Henderson feel they are not heard – that is heartbreaking. I want to work with fellow City Council members to achieve what is important to the citizens of Henderson to bring a better quality of life to everyone (who) calls Henderson home.” She said she is eager to share ideas about how to bring positive momentum to help Henderson become the best it can be.”
2. What’s your platform?
Franklin: “As I embark on my journey into public office, I am passionate about continuing the legacy of community service. I’m driven to apply the knowledge and values I’ve gained to confront the pressing issues of our time. From promoting economic growth and addressing housing affordability to ensuring educational excellence, enriching our cultural landscape, and implementing programs to inspire our youth and reduce crime. I am convinced that together, we can build a stronger and more vibrant community where every resident has the opportunity to thrive. Remember, when people take pride in their city, they become deeply invested in its well-being and growth. Let’s stand together as OneCity, OnePeople, and make our vision for Henderson a reality.”
Wood: “We need rising wages inside the city of Henderson rather than a rising crime rate. (We need) equal and fair housing opportunities for everyone with proper code enforcement…put local government back to work for the citizens of Henderson.”
3. What are the top three issues that, in your opinion, this city faces in the next two years? Five years?
Franklin: Franklin identified top issues for the city which include reducing crime, having more affordable housing, cleaner neighborhoords, economic growth, responsible budgeting, mental health programs and tackling prejudice.
Wood: Wood said addressing the issue of affordable and safe housing will take years to correct. “There are people living in houses that are deplorable,” she said. Henderson certainly isn’t the only city that experiences crime, and Wood said she believes that the city can “create activities and safe places for the young people to go. Also, working to fill all the open positions for the police and sheriff department” is a priority. Wood also identified the division within the city as an issue to address. “I want to unite the people. We are children of God and I want to create an environment of equality. Everyone in this city and county is important,” she said.
4. As an elected official, how will you address these issues?
Franklin: “Crime is undoubtedly a pressing issue in our city, but addressing it goes hand in hand with providing our youth with meaningful alternatives. We must recognize that the absence of programs such as sports, summer camps, arts, music, and technology initiatives can inadvertently push our young folks toward criminal activities. Policing alone won’t resolve this problem; what we truly need are programs that not only deter crime but also instill values of commitment, growth, teamwork, confidence, and opportunities for a brighter future.”
He called affordable housing. “vital component of our community’s well-being.” We need housing initiatives that offer stability and security, allowing homeowners and renters to weather unexpected challenges without facing financial ruin. “Clean and safe neighborhoods are crucial for our collective pride. We should all take pride in keeping our neighborhoods clean, ensuring they are places where families can thrive and feel safe. Encouraging community involvement in neighborhood clean-up efforts can make a significant difference.” Fostering economic growth, investing in mental health programs and responsible city budgeting also are key components that Franklin identified as key issues. To foster economic growth, we need to encourage, support, and train residents to become entrepreneurs and small business owners. I know our city is filled with innovative minds they just don’t know how to start. “Prejudice is a challenge we must confront head-on. It’s a choice we can make—to respect and value one another regardless of our differences. Promoting diversity and inclusion should be a priority, and we can do this through education and community and cultural events, featuring music, food, games, arts, and crafts, can strengthen our bonds as a community.”
Wood: Housing is holding landlords accountable, Wood said, but also (holding accountable) homeowners to make sure people are safe. Whether renting or owning a home, residents should be responsible for keeping the property clean and should keep trash picked up. “Crime is always going to be a work in progress,” Wood said. “I want to have quarterly street meetings – meeting people where they are,” she said. “I enjoy getting out there visiting people. Some of the best conversations are held on citizens’ porches. This will help with the division in our city as well.”
5. What is your experience in the public sector?
Franklin: “My father’s remarkable 30-year tenure as the chief of Economic and Housing Development in our city taught me the profound difference that public service can make in transforming a community. Growing up in this environment, I learned early that self-respect and respect for others are not just ideals; they are essential qualities that underpin a thriving community.”
Wood: “My heart has always been with the public sector, although I have not held an official position. I have been in many leadership positions in my life,” she said, including being a lay speaker at her church, youth leader, store manager and currently as director of operations for Ruin Creek Animal Protection Society. Wood said she has been attending City Council meetings as a citizen for the past two or more years.
6. If you are a newcomer to politics, what role do you see yourself playing as a member of an elected body?
Franklin: “My role as a newcomer to politics is all about being committed to actively engaging with our residents and constituents to identify gaps and find the solutions that make a difference. We’ll work together to support sustainable economic growth, find solutions to make housing more affordable, champion quality education for our youth, and ensure that cultural enrichment remains a fundamental part of our community.”
Wood: Her role as a member of an elected body, she said, is “to voice the important matters for the people of my ward and the whole city. I am here to ensure policies are being upheld. The city has many tools available to correct most of the problems. The ordinances and policies are there,” she said, it’s a matter of holding the correct people/persons accountable.
7. Please share any additional information you want voters to know about you.
Franklin: “I wholeheartedly invite you to join me on this transformative journey to create a city that we can all be proud to call home. Together, we will uphold the values of family, accountability, self-respect, and respect for others, shaping a brighter future for us all.”
Wood: Wood, a lifelong resident of Vance County, has lived in Ward 3 since 1999. She is a 1991 graduate of Southern Vance High School and attended Vance Granville Community College. She is married to Barry Wood, also a lifelong resident of Henderson. Candidate Wood works for Ruin Creek Animal Protection Society as the director of operation of the non-profit organization. Wood stated that there is a need for effective leadership and common sense, fair policy making for everyone involved.