by Jason M. Rodriguez
Republican mayoral candidate Ted Franklin grips a small caddy that holds his promotional material as he walks down the halls of Chase Center Nursing Home. He wants to make sure the residents who want ballots for the coming election get them.
It’s hard to find a person that the 49-year-old walks by that he doesn’t say “hi” to. The sleeves of his pink shirt are rolled up to his elbows as a resident engages him in conversation.
“Franklin, I’ve heard that name before,” the woman says.
“Logansport’s been good to me,” he chimes back. “They named a street and a school after me, but they haven’t named the town after me.”
He reaches in his caddy, pulls out a flier, a pen and a nail file and hands it to the woman. She’s excited about the nail file. He takes mental note of her excitement, and it’s on to the next potential voter.
This one won’t be wowed by nail files. This is 87-year-old Robert Hughes, a World War II veteran who is just about ready to move to the Indiana Masonic Home — but, of course, not before he votes.
“You don’t look a day over 64 to me,” Franklin says, which draws a laugh from Hughes.
Franklin’s sharp on his World War II knowledge. He’s keen to who he’s talking to and tosses out a few names of Masons he knows from the area.
These quick-hit conversations are common for Franklin as the home stretch to the election nears. Sometimes he gets 10 seconds of someone’s time, and other times it’s a half-hour conversation.
Either way, he makes the most of it.
He’s a numbers guy. He can spout off the percentage of registered voters who have voted already, the number of lost jobs in the last five years, the percent increase in poverty since his last bid for election.
And don’t even get him started on the number six — the margin of victory for incumbent Mayor Michael Fincher in the Democratic primary.
It’s a number that follows him daily as he moves the three yard signs he had created that each carries one word: Every. Vote. Counts.
It follows him as he goes door to door with his Blackberry that tells him which house has registered voters and which one doesn’t.
The number lingers over his head as he walks the halls of Chase Center.
Will this vote be the one that puts him over the top?
He goes room to room escorted by Susan Smith of the center and Bob Bishop, a candidate for City Council. Franklin’s charm makes the older ladies laugh, and his familiarity with people in the area spurs conversations with the men at the facility.
In fact, Bishop notices a man he met during the primary who noted he didn’t have the word “Republican” on his fliers. Franklin sinks out of the conversation and briskly walks to the nurses’ station asking for a black marker. He scribbles “Republican” on the flier he plans to give to the man.
“I don’t want to get chewed out,” he says before handing the man his flier.
His confined voter tour is almost over. He’s made eye contact as often as he could. You know he’s listening intently as he places his black-rimmed glasses atop his slightly peppered hair.
“And by the way,” he tells one woman who seems to have paid limited attention to what he was saying, “We’re both Republican.”
The woman shows no reaction until he quips, “Today.”
Just as he and Bishop ready to leave her room, that keen ability to listen and learn from what others say is ready to shine again.
“I know you ladies like to keep your nails nice,” he said. “Here are some fingernail files.”
• Jason M. Rodriguez is news editor of the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5117 or email@example.com.