Fireworks erupt at Franklin City Council meeting

FRANKLIN, Va. (WAVY) — Sometimes city council meetings can get heated, but Monday night the friction between Franklin Mayor Raystine Johnson-Ashburn and Councilman Greg McLemore came to a head.

“When the mayor didn’t agree, she shut me down,” McLemore said.

Monday night was a public hearing over a $1.4 million state grant that could be awarded to Franklin. The money would be used to fix homes along Madison Street.City of Franklin

“It will improve the infrastructure on that street as well as repaving,” Johnson-Ashburn said.

The residents who opt in the program would be charged $25 a month.

“I don’t think that’s fair,” McLemore told WAVY.com. “The state and government authorized the money to help the lower-income people and now you’re going to put another expense on them.”

During Monday’s meeting, the issue came to a tipping point.

“I don’t know where you can get your house rehabbed for $25,” the mayor said to Councilman McLemore.

“Mrs. Mayor, you did not answer my question,” he replied.

The war of words continued until the mayor asked officers to step forward and control McLemore. He ended up leaving the meeting on his own.

“He was disruptive,” Johnson-Ashburn said. “So I felt impelled to bring it back to order, and that’s what I did.”

“It appears that I’m being disruptive and argumentative when I’m just trying to get to the bottom of the given issue,” McLemore added. “My job is to speak on behalf of the citizens of my ward and represent them. If I’m going to be threatened with police harassment because I’m doing my job, I want no part of this.”

There’s no secret in the community that the mayor and McLemore don’t get along. He calls it a long-standing feud.

“I’m not going to say it is a feud, because I don’t participate in feuds,” the mayor said.

“It’s a personal vendetta,” McLemore added. “I guess that’s the best way you can sum it up.”

10 On Your Side was in Franklin in June when the mayor almost kicked McLemore out of another meeting. He says he’s not just some crazy guy, but a man who’s standing up for the people. Council confrontations like these are last thing anyone in city wants to see.

“I really hate it,” Johnson-Ashburn said. “We are really striving and working very hard to have a positive image for Franklin.”

Both Mayor Johnson-Ashburn and Councilman McLemore are up for re-election in July. McLemore’s seat is being contested while the Mayor is running unopposed.

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