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Franklin City Council votes Olivia Zink interim mayor until October

  • Oliva Zink battled the rain outside Franklin City Hall on Main Street on Tuesday, October 2, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER

  • Oliva Zink battled the rain outside the Franklin Town offices on Main Street on Tuesday, October 2, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER

Monitor staff
Published: 1/26/2021 12:17:35 PM

Franklin City Councilor Olivia Zink will be the city’s interim mayor until municipal elections in October, after a vote by the council Monday evening.

In a 5-4 vote, the council chose Zink, a councilor since 2019 and the executive director of the voting rights group Open Democracy, to take the reins for the next nine months. 

Franklin mayor Tony Giunta resigned Jan. 15, citing the death of his 95-year-old mother due to COVID-19, and a desire to spend more time with family. Under the city's process, an interim mayor must be appointed from within the council until residents can vote in the next election. 

The city will not be holding a special election for mayor, Zink said; instead, she will serve as both city councilor and interim mayor until the regularly scheduled municipal election in October. She will be able to vote as a councilor and hold the post as mayor, she said.

“I think I have dedicated service to the city of Franklin,” Zink said in an interview Monday evening. “I really want to see Franklin grow and thrive. And I really hope to put some of my leadership skills in service to help advance our community.”

Zink, a Franklin native who attended Franklin High School and whose mother and grandfather have run the Broughton Charles W & Company tax preparation service in town, said that she is dedicated to helping build the city up as an attractive location for younger residents. That means in part continuing Giunta’s focus on the city’s redevelopment efforts, including the ongoing work on the water park and the renovations of Stevens Mill.

Zink pointed to her master’s degree in community economic development as an asset in that effort.

“I really want to see all of the Franklin revitalization continue,” she said. “...I think our downtown is really energized by new business growth and I hope that we continue to build the tax base and grow our tax base, but also continue to build on Franklin as a place to come and recreate. Come and kayak, and come and bike, and come enjoy the beautiful city of Franklin.”

But Zink will also be shadowed by expected budget constraints on the city. An open question remains over whether Congress will appropriate federal aid to help local governments and cities in its next aid package. 

Zink said that she is not concerned with a huge revenue deficit on the municipal side of the budget, despite a hit to meals and rooms tax during the pandemic. But the city is facing down potentially significant cuts to school funding this year. Two years ago, the Legislature passed a significant increase in adequacy aid for schools during a flush revenue year; this year, Franklin could see around $1.3 million less if that boost is discontinued, .

“A million dollars is a big number to make up in a small municipal budget,” Zink said. 

Exactly who is competing in the October election is also up in the air. While Zink put her hat into the ring for the interim mayorship, she’s not sure yet if she will launch a campaign for a city-wide vote. That’s a decision she will make with her family in the next few months, she said Monday.

In winning the council’s vote for the post Monday evening, Zink narrowly beat out Councilor Jo Brown. 

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