Leesburg City Councilwoman Rhonda Futch, who first earned a seat on that board in a special called 2010 election, sent a letter of resignation to Mayor Jim Quinn Thursday.
LEESBURG — Leesburg City Councilwoman Rhonda Futch, who first earned a seat on that board in a special called 2010 election, sent a letter of resignation to Mayor Jim Quinn Thursday.
Futch, the owner of the Your Phone Lady telecommunications business, told Quinn in her letter her schedule kept her from meeting the time requirements necessary to serve as a member of the council.
“I feel it is not right to continue in this position and know I just do not have the time to serve Leesburg in the manner it deserves,” Futch wrote in the letter. “It has been a privilege to serve on the council.”
City officials have already begun the process of preparing for a special called election to fill the seat vacated by Futch. Lee Elections Supervisor Veronica Johnson said Thursday morning the city could hold the election in conjunction with July 31 primaries, and City Attorney Bert Gregory said he and other officials are pursuing that plan.
“The timing is such that as long as the city calls for the election 90 days before July 31 — and pre-clears everything with the Department of Justice — it can use the general election cycle and the citizens won’t have the expense of a special election,” Gregory said. “It’s unfortunate any time an elected official leaves office before his or her term has expired, but the timing here is fortunate for Leesburg.”
Futch leaves office amid building controversy surrounding her phone business, as The Herald learned through an Open Records request that she did not obtain a business license for her home-based business during the years 2008-2010. She said Thursday morning any failure to secure a business license was “inadvertent” and most likely coincided with a period in which her billing was being conducted through a separate business.
She emphasized that she had obtained a business license before taking the council’s oath of office after the special election. In that oath, she confirmed that she did not owe money to any city agency.
“If there was a period I didn’t have a business license, it was definitely an oversight,” Futch said. “I find it ironic that someone would make a complaint (about the license) when (fellow councilwoman) Judy Powell and I were working to get a list of businesses registered in the city. We were planning to compile an updated list of licensed businesses.
“I guess I might have made someone angry in working to update the city’s handbook and job descriptions, but I don’t apologize for that. I was one person of a committee that worked on that project. It hadn’t been done in 15 years, and that’s just not a way to do business.”
Quinn called Futch an “active” council member and said he understood her reason for stepping down.
“Before Rhonda was elected to a full term on the council (on Nov. 8, 2011), there was a story in The Albany Herald about her not being sure she had the time to devote to the office,” the mayor said. “It’s something she as a businessperson has been dealing with since she’s been in office.
“I’m a little surprised at her decision, but she’s done a good job with the council. I wish her the best, and now we just have to carry on. Fortunately, with the timing (of Futch’s decision), we won’t have to go very long with a vacant seat.”
Futch, who wrote in her letter of resignation that she had intended to announce her decision to resign at the city’s council meeting Tuesday but was out of town on business and didn’t return in time, said she’s proud of the board’s accomplishments during her tenure in office.
“One of the main reasons I decided to go ahead and run for office (in November) is that we were working to update the city’s handbook and complete job descriptions,” Futch said. “I didn’t want to leave unfinished business. We have now finished those projects and voted on them.
“I was appointed to a new committee, and we haven’t really started a new project yet, so the timing seems right. I feel we got a lot accomplished while I was in office, and I will continue to support the ones who remain on the City Council. I just feel that my customers deserve to have someone who is available, and the city needs a representative who can devote the time needed to do the job.”
Gregory said that, if there are no glitches, qualifying for Futch’s seat will be held from 9 a.m. May 23 to noon May 25.
“I anticipate the City Council putting the special election on its April 3 agenda and calling for the election at that meeting,” the city attorney said. “If things fall into place, qualifying will be held during the county’s qualifying period, early voting will be held July 9-27, including Saturday, July 21, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the election will be held July 31.
“If there is a runoff, it would be held Aug. 21, provided everything goes off as planned.”