Sharp hopes for business growth, bike paths

Published 4:10 am Wednesday, December 14, 2016

On Saturday, Darwin Sharp was elected as the newest — and final — member of the Franklinton Board of Aldermen.

While the rest of the board was elected in November, Sharp faced a runoff election against incumbent Douglas Brown.

Sharp is no stranger to public office. For decades he has served various offices in the parish, including on the parish council and as a police juror prior to that. Sharp was on the council when Hurricane Katrina hit the area in 2005, and he said the stress of that storm left him wanting a break from politics.

In the intervening 10 years, Sharp moved from the parish into Franklinton and he said the move reignited his love of politics.

“It’s in my blood. I wanted to do something for Franklinton,” he said.

Despite his many years of public service and repeated elections, Sharp said he has had very few competitive races.

“I’ve only had to run against someone three times in the eight terms I’ve been in office,” he said.

This recent election was tight. Sharp won 552 votes — three more than Brown — in the general election on Nov. 2. In the runoff, he won 344 votes, or 40 more than Brown.

Nevertheless, Sharp said the race wasn’t contentious or negative.

“I wasn’t running against him,” he said. “We were both running for that seat.”

Now that it’s over, Sharp said he’s eager to get to work.

Sharp said he is hopeful to expand the town’s business base.

“Franklinton is growing, but we got to do better at bringing in new businesses and trying to get some bigger businesses in Franklinton to help us, tax wise,” he said. “A town cannot survive if you don’t have growth and new industry coming in.”

Sharp also said he’s hopeful for some help from president-elect Donald Trump.

“I hope that he’ll look at more rural Americans than the other administration has,” Sharp said. “That’s who put him in office.”

Sharp said he would like to see the town add more bike and walking paths and provide more public amenities — projects he said he would like to fund through grants.

However, Sharp said if the town builds new public amenities, the citizens had better care for them.

“My concern is, if we build it, it’s your park and it’s your facilities, so don’t tear it up,” he said. “If you tear it up, I won’t fix it back.”

Sharp did say he’d vote to fund routine maintenance and repairs. However, he noted that young people need to learn responsibility.

“That’s the problem with young people today. They don’t take care of anything,” he said. “Children aren’t taught, ‘This is yours, and this is yours to play in to take care of, to keep clean.’ That’s not instilled in our children.”

Ultimately, Sharp said a town relies on its citizens to improve the community.

“Elected officials cannot do the job by themselves,” he said. “It takes community involvement and community organizations to help. If you’re not on the same page, then nothing’s going to happen. Look at our (federal) government. Look at what’s happened there. We’ve got to work together.”

Sharp as well as the other aldermen and Mayor-elect Richard Dillon will be sworn into office Dec. 27 at 6 p.m.