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He was born in Elgin, Ontario in 1942. He graduated from Carleton University with a BA in 1971 and became a high school geography teacher. In 1973, he was elected to Nepean council. In 1975, he ran unsuccessfully as the Liberal candidate in the riding of Carleton in the Ontario general election. As mayor, Franklin established a "pay as you go" policy which brought the city out of debt. He retired in 1997 due to health problems. His executive assistant, Mary Pitt, succeeded him as mayor of Nepean after running a campaign that promised to simply continue Franklin's vision.