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Editorial: The importance of being Frank

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Editorial: The importance of being Frank

City of Tucker Mayor Frank Auman speaks during the groundbreaking for a $260 million expansion of the PepsiCo Beverages North America manufacturing facility at 1644 Rock Mountain Boulevard on Wednesday, August 10, 2022. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Many of us know a guy like Tucker Mayor Frank Auman. 

They’re older. They’ve got problematic opinions. But they’re not objectively terrible in most ways. 

Frank is that conservative uncle at Thanksgiving who hasn’t quite crossed the Rubicon into MAGA Land. He’s got the redeeming virtue of being generally likable. 

But being likable will only get you so far. While most decent people with problematic opinions will pour themselves a stiff drink and keep those opinions to themselves, as the mayor of Tucker, Frank is in a position to act on them. 

Frank, for reasons that only make sense to him and the pastor of Rehoboth Baptist Church, didn’t want Tucker to have a nondiscrimination ordinance. Give him credit for consistency because he’s fought the ordinance tooth and nail for years. It’s like his calling card at this point.

Other local cities have adopted a nondiscrimination ordinance without giving it a second thought. But not Tucker.  

In Tucker, Frank’s opposition to the ordinance has kept it on the back burner. He has delayed, obstructed, and gaslighted the ordinance’s supporters to prevent it from ever getting a public hearing.

In Tucker, you see, Frank Auman is the mayor, and it’s important to recognize the importance of being Frank. He wants you to know that he runs the show. And, in fairness to Frank, he did run the show for a while.

For much of Tucker’s existence, what Frank wanted was often in step with what the city council wanted. Only recently has he started to lose his grip on Tucker’s politics as the public has elected more progressive people to city council.

Judging by Monday’s 6-1 vote to adopt the nondiscrimination ordinance, I do believe there are many people in the Tucker community who have simply had enough of Frank Auman and his inflated sense of importance. Councilmembers are no doubt tired of the unwanted attention Frank’s problematic opinions bring to the city. 

Frank has offered numerous justifications for not wanting the ordinance to pass. But the consistent theme of his opposition has been that he hasn’t been able to control the process to his liking.

When he ran for reelection in 2021, we asked Frank about the ordinance.

“I have great regard and respect for each of the appointed officials who have been involved in this effort. In fact, I appointed each one of them to those positions,” he said.

Frank said that the law would be “outside our purview” and “creates division instead of unity.” He predicted it would lead to expensive legal action, despite there being no evidence of that occurring in other cities that have adopted similar laws.

“If the point is to state our values and make clear that as a city and as individuals, we are opposed to already illegal employment and other forms of discrimination enshrined in federal and state law, as adjudicated by the courts, we can do that with a resolution, which I have offered repeatedly,” he said in 2021. “I wrote the resolution in support of hate crimes legislation, and I remain convinced something like that is more appropriate here.”

During a May 8 meeting, he noted this was the first time that the Tucker City Council had considered an ordinance written by council members.

He later attempted to hold his own town hall on the matter that would’ve been a ticketed event. Frank also planned to give away most of the tickets. He invited councilmembers to attend but asked them not to say anything.

Frank canceled the town hall due to an illness in his family. That did not stop him from trying to cancel the nondiscrimination ordinance, however.

On June 12, with the ordinance on the verge of passing, he fumed. At times, the mayor acted like an utter man baby, trying to kill the ordinance by talking it to death and offering up pointless amendments that went nowhere. He then left the room before the vote, and later objected to the vote occurring when he was out of the room. Oh, and he wanted his vote recorded as a “no.” 

It was a bizarre performance, even for Frank, who infamously opposed giving Tucker employees the Juneteenth holiday off and then proceeded to lecture everyone about Black history

“The proposed ordinance does not achieve, will not achieve what it purports to,” Frank said during the June 12 meeting.

The funny thing is, Frank mostly got what he wanted out of this process. The nondiscrimination ordinance is largely symbolic. If you read it closely, it seems unlikely a complaint would ever lead to any kind of fine or repercussion for the accused. It’s designed to push parties toward mediation and includes generous exemptions for the Rehoboth’s of the world. 

And yet, even with all the concessions, Frank just couldn’t take the L. 

It’s clear that Tucker has moved on from Frank and his style of politics. It’s unlikely to reverse course. Many people have called for Frank to be voted out of office following his shenanigans on June 12, but they’ll be delighted to know he’s term limited. He won’t be the mayor for too much longer. 

Frank needs to ask himself how he’ll spend the years he has left on the council. Will he recommit himself to being a productive and collaborative leader, or will he embarrass himself repeatedly on his way out the door? 

Frank has the distinction of being Tucker’s first mayor. Right now, he’s gambling with his legacy.

Frank Auman is the mayor for all residents of Tucker, including the people protected by this nondiscrimination ordinance. It’s long past time for him to start acting like it.

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