HASTINGS, Mich. — In October 2012, Franklin Campbell was presented with a request he couldn't turn down. The family of his dying friend, then mayor Robert L. May, asked that Campbell finish out his term when he passed away.
“To see a dying man sit there, you know it kind of tears you up a little bit,” said Campbell.
So Mayor Frank, as everyone calls him, gladly accepted. It was his third term as mayor, he said. He did it for the 7,300 people who live in Hastings.
“This job don’t pay much,” said Mayor Frank during an interview at City Hall. “Gotta have the love of the people and the people around you.”
It’s what has driven the 78-year-old to have a “successful” career in public service for 50 years, he said. The army veteran was a policeman early in his career, then a fireman in the 1970s, a councilman in the ‘80s and then was elected to his first term as mayor in the late 90s. His straight-forward approach to life has helped him achieve such positions.
“You gotta really work your butt off to be a phony or tell people lies and stuff,” said Mayor Frank. “If you be who you are, there’s no work to it. And I'm lazy, so tell it like it is.”
Mayor Frank said even though his focus has been all about the people, there’s been some challenges, which have included a few layoffs. However he’s always been proud of his town and what they've built. The library, plaza and theatre came from private donations.
“No bricks and mortar made me what I am,” said Mayor Frank. “It’s the people. But we’ve got to protect our bricks and mortar, you know, that’s what the people wrap themselves around.”
Throughout his career he’s done several mayoral exchanges with various small towns like Marshall and has made friends everywhere he went. His offices shows it too. Near his old fireman's hat, awards and plaques are dozens of photographs with him and local politicians, and a few big ones too like Senator Debbie Stabenow, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and Governor Rick Snyder.
“I put myself into this obligation and I respect this obligation,” said Mayor Frank. “It don’t pay enough to make a living but it’s fun, it's good.”
Mayor Frank said it’s been easy being an ambassador for his town. But now he’s ready to retire and spend more time with his two children and grandkids. His first stop: Florida with his wife Linda of 55 years.
“I’m ready,” said Mayor Frank. “I’m not in the computer age. I’m getting old. I don’t like to get up mornings much. I like to sit and drink my coffee.”