SARATOGA SPRINGS – The city’s most independent City Council member, who is serving his eighth term in office, said he will not run again.

Commissioner of Accounts John Franck, who has been known as a contrarian for going his own way on many city issues, said he will not seek a ninth term due to an “ongoing family medical concern.”

The commissioner is currently battling other members of the five-member council on adopting robust police reforms.

“I look at myself as a counterpuncher,” the Democrat said. “And I go from there.”

When Franck took office in 2006, he immediately got into a tangle with the council over putting assessments online, something the council didn’t want to do, claiming it would take too much time. Franck won the fight and within about 40 days, he said, the public had easy access to the information. Online tax rolls are now available everywhere.

He also demanded the city do something about the bedbug infestation at the public Stonequist Apartments, which then-Mayor Scott Johnson was reluctant to address. He also worked to end tax breaks for condos and offered workshops to the public on how to grieve assessments so that taxpayers wouldn’t have to hire lawyers to help them with the process.

He also was the swing vote on the city’s Recreation Center, placing it near public housing, not by Wilton Mall, which would have been harder for kids to access. He also voted against the initial plans for the Saratoga Springs City Center parking garage, another vote that angered council members who needed a supermajority to allow it to be built.

More recently, during the pandemic, he fought for blocking off streets for outdoor dining, something the council initially said was too dangerous. They eventually agreed.

“I came in and wanted to make the playing field as level as possible so that people without means would have better opportunity,” Franck said. “I did a lot of little things.”

But he was not always on the winning side. He was the only one to vote against changing the zoning near the hospital, transforming a residential area into a commercial one. He also failed to beat back the council’s frequent stands against Mayor Joanne Yepsen. He remained her sole ally on the council and Yepsen said she appreciated his leadership.

“His pragmatic and transparent approach to getting to the bottom of issues and coming up with real solutions has served the city well,” Yepsen said on Tuesday. “I especially appreciated his partnership, while I was mayor … He will be missed.”

His relationship with Mayor Meg Kelly, a fellow Democrat, has not always been smooth. In addition to the hospital, he split with her on where the city’s Code Blue winter homeless shelter should go, arguing it should be where the homeless population is, not on the city’s outskirts.

His latest fight on police reform sparked an argument between him and Kelly last week. She told him he’s “on his own team” on police reform. He shot back “I’m still allowed to vote. I don’t need your permission to vote.”

Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan said Franck’s decision not to run is a loss.

“I’ve enjoyed working with Commissioner Franck throughout my tenure,” said Madigan who is also not running after five terms in office. “He brings a lot of institutional knowledge to the City Council and the job we do everyday. His decision not to run is a personal one that I understand, but it is a big loss to the city.”

Over the years, the Democratic committee stood by Franck despite his dust-ups with elected officials in his own party.

“Over his eight terms in office, Commissioner Franck has been a tremendous advocate for our community,” said Sarah Burger, chair of the  city Democratic Committee. “We wish him and his family all the best.”

Franck called himself an underdog who at times, “can be an a—.” But, he said, in the end, “I respect everyone on the council.”

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