MOUNT VERNON — Citing conflicts with his work hours, 2nd Ward Councilman John Francis resigned from Mount Vernon City Council at the end of Monday’s meeting.
“For 16 months it’s been grueling, and it’s not fair to my constituents, it’s not fair to you, it’s not fair to my family that I do this,” he told the other council members. “It was just trying to get through to the end of this year. Once I realized that that’s not what we’re supposed to do …
“So honorably, I’m resigning, so that I can maintain my honor to the people. They deserve to have a person that they elected, and regretfully, for 16 months they have not. I failed them, so it’s time for me to leave.
“It has been an honor to work with each one of you, and it’s been a pleasure to serve the city and the people in it. This is the one way that I can keep my integrity in the job they placed me in.”
Francis was first elected to council in 2011, winning re-election five times. His current term was to expire this year.
A northwest resident for more than 30 years, Francis put drug dealers on notice that he was fed up with them and the drug problems plaguing the neighborhood.
“I raised two kids in my neighborhood that was a great place to raise kids. In the last seven years I’ve seen it diminish and I’m done with it. As a councilman I’m gonna do everything in my power to make life miserable to anybody that’s dealing heroin and dope in the neighborhoods of the city,” he said at the Feb. 14, 2017, council meeting.
With that comment, Francis embarked on a journey to educate residents about drugs. Working with the Mount Vernon Police Department, he encouraged them to report suspicious activities.
In 2019, Francis declared “Round 2” on dealers and was the catalyst behind a chronic nuisance abatement ordinance. He was a driving force behind the city clearing the former Shellmar/American National Can property.
Today, what used to be a refuge for drug dealers and the homeless population is now a neighborhood gathering place. Shellmar Park, dedicated in 2020, offers a place for families to grill out, play basketball, and get to know one another.
“John, we appreciate what you’ve done for the city the past 11-and-a-half years. You’ve been a great council person, and you certainly are going to be missed,” Council President Bruce Hawkins told Francis.
Francis served as president pro-tem of council. At the June 26 meeting, council will elect a replacement.
Under the Ohio Revised Code, Francis’ seat must be filled no earlier than five days after the vacancy is created and no later than 45 days. Members of the county central committee who live in Ward 2 will choose the replacement.