During the first Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting of 2021 Tuesday, city leaders acknowledged the effects of the recent loss of Alderman At-Large Pearl Bransford.
The board voted to appoint former Franklin Mayor John Schroer to fill Bransford’s seat until the fall after the October ward alderman election. He will not seek re-election in the race.
Bransford died the day after Thanksgiving after a quiet battle with cancer. Her achievements in public service included serving on the Franklin BOMA for 13 years, as a nurse and healthcare administrator, with the Franklin Special School District and as a historic preservationist in the Natchez community.
A vivacious community activist, Bransford’s death stunned many and left the BOMA struggling to find a replacement.
Aldermen agreed the interim board member would need to be familiar with city affairs and be able to step in on the first day of tenure. A point brought up by several was familiarity with working on the city’s budget.
Schroer was elected as mayor of Franklin in 2007, a position he held until resigning in 2011 to head the Tennessee Department of Transportation. He retired as commissioner of TDOT in 2018.
In addition to his familiarity with the city government, Schroer served with Bransford both on the FSSD board and with BOMA for a total of 17 years.
“It’s an honor to sit in her seat, and I’ll try to make her proud,” Schroer told the Herald.
Alderman At-Large Brandy Blanton said she had brought up the idea of serving to Schroer, and he agreed to fill the seat temporarily, promising not to seek re-election.
Ward 2 Alderman Dana McLendon said though he respected Schroer, he disagreed with appointing an interim alderman for such a short period.
“John Schroer is one of, but not the only one, who would do it well,” McLendon said. “I think we should leave it empty, not leave an incumbent and not spend our time potentially haggling amongst ourselves who Pearl’s replacement, if only for a few months, would be.”
Other aldermen said Schroer’s promise not to seek re-election, willingness to serve and vast experience with city affairs made him the right choice for the interim.
“It was a very unique way to make us whole in the interim, when we wish it were Pearl,” Blanton said. “It is by no means to disregard anybody else who is interested. I do think he is uniquely equipped to assume this role to help us. It wasn’t for his benefit that he was willing to do this.”
“He has promised he doesn’t want it; I believe him, and I have not talked to one other soul who would be interested in doing this for that few months,” said Ward 4 Alderman Margaret Martin in support of Blanton’s suggestion.
Alderman Bev Burger made a motion to appoint Schroer for the interim position and add the seat to the October ballot. Board members voted 6-1, with McLendon dissenting.
“I don’t think we need to angst about this; we’re only talking between now and October,” Burger said. “We have work to do. I think we move forward.”
The board will vote to confirm Schroer on Jan. 26. If approved at that time, he will begin serving immediately.
“I have a prediction: there will be an outcry,” McLendon said.
“I’ll second that prediction,” Alderman At-Large Clyde Barnhill said.