Broken Arrow City Council expected to discuss fate of open seat Tuesday
By John Dobberstein, Editor
With the resignation of one of its members last Friday, the Broken Arrow City Council is expected to discuss Tuesday how to fill the vacancy.
Joe Franco was elected to the Ward 4 seat on April 4, defeating incumbent Scott Eudey. But about a month after being sworn, Franco resigned for personal reasons.
The City Council is expected to debate the merits of appointing someone to fill the balance of Franco’s term, or calling for a special election to fill the seat.
State election laws say when a vacancy occurs in an office of an elected municipal official, except the mayor, the governing body “shall appoint, by a majority vote of the remaining members,” a person to fill the vacancy until the next general municipal election.
State law also says If the vacancy has not been filled within 60 days after it occurs, the governing body “shall call for a special election” to fill the vacancy. Franco resigned effective May 12.
It’s unclear what direction council members might be leaning toward. Some may feel pressure to appoint a replacement now to ensure Ward 4 voters don’t go unrepresented for an extended period.
But it could also be argued nearly an entire term is at stake and a special election would let voters to decide who should serve.
It’s unclear how much a special election would cost, although that question may be asked at the meeting. The entire city would vote in the election, per existing rules, even though it’s for Ward 4.
Franco’s resignation letter was released in its entirety by the city Monday as part of an an amended agenda posted online for Tuesday’s meeting.
Franco said his resignation was being made with a “heavy heart” but he felt the move was “in the best interest of myself, my family, city staff and the constituents I represent.”
Franco said recent “personal circumstances” had arisen that required his immediate attention and he could not continue to serve. He also revealed that he may be moving up a different city or state soon and that would disqualify him from serving.
“Over the past several months, I have been dealing with these circumstances that I thought I would be able to overcome, but to no success, and these issues have made it difficult for me to fully commit to the responsibilities of being a council member,” Franco wrote in his letter signed May 12.
“I'm ashamed and embarrassed that I've disappointed my family, friends and supporters who went out of their way to help me get where I am. And to the voters for putting their trust in me, to all of you, I am incredibly sorry.”
Franco said he spent a great deal of time evaluating what it would take to be a city councilor and how it would affect his career and family.
“I measured this commitment incorrectly. Unfortunately, I didn't realize how much time it truly took from my family and job — and putting myself in a position of choosing anything and everything over them — until it was too late,” Franco wrote.
“I have been struggling to balance my personal life and my duties as a public servant, and it has become clear to me that I can no longer give this role the attention it needs and deserves.
“Lastly, I will be potentially relocating to another city and/or state, therefore disqualifying me from serving as a city councilor.”