Park City government spokesperson asks councilwoman to recuse herself from midterm nominations pick
Michael Franchek, a City Hall critic who plans to seek a midterm appointment to Park City Council, called on one of the current elected officials on Thursday to step down from the selection process, arguing that there would be a city-based conflict of interest. Counselor Becca Gerber’s potential role in an unrelated legal case involving Franchek.
Franchek outlined his claim in an email to Park City and Summit County officials. The request that Gerber withdraw from the process is the latest step in a long-running dispute between Franchek and the city government stemming from a 2019 confrontation between himself and members of the Park City Police Department.
Franchek demanded a seat on the city council in elections earlier this year. His campaign never garnered widespread support, and voters failed him in the primary. Franchek said he would run for the opening of the city council that will be created when mayor-elect Nann Worel ascends to the mayor’s office. The remaining city councilors, including Gerber, are tasked with making the selection.
Franchek’s Thursday post reports a lawsuit he filed in September against the city government and four members of the police department. The 2019 confrontation resulted in criminal charges against Franchek which were later dismissed and the trial.
He says Gerber “became a witness for the prosecution, creating an adversarial relationship” between him and the councilman.
“I submit that the appropriate course of action would be for Ms. Gerber to recuse herself from any involvement in the board nominee selection process. Ms. Gerber’s participation would seriously compromise the process,” Franchek says in the post.
Franchek, in an interview, said Gerber would potentially be called as a witness in the trial and was called as such in the criminal case.
“Absolutely not,” Franchek said in an interview about whether Gerber should play a role in the city council’s midterm selection. “Because we are adversaries.”
Franchek and Gerber were living close to each other at the time of the 2019 showdown.
Gerber, in an interview Thursday, said she was not at home when the confrontation happened and did not witness any of the events. She said she consulted with the Park City Legal Department on Thursday about a recusal after Franchek distributed the message. Based on a discussion with City Attorney Margaret Plane, Gerber said she would not recuse herself from the selection process.
Plane responded to Franchek on Thursday in an email that was also distributed to the media.
“I have indicated that what you are describing does not constitute a conflict of interest within the meaning of the law. …Council member Gerber was not a witness to the incident and is not a prosecution witness” , the city attorney said in part.