Frankfort city leaders vote unanimously for public hearing that could lead to removal of elected commissioner accused of misconduct

Published 6:24 am Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Members of a Kentucky city commission voted unanimously to set a public hearing that could lead to the removal of one its own board member.

A hearing involving Frankfort Commissioner Kyle Thompson was set at Monday night’s City Commission meeting, where members voted unanimously to seek the commissioner’s removal.

After Thursday’s special-called meeting, which included an executive session discussion concerning the possible discipline or dismissal of a commissioner, the board had not made any decisions regarding any of its members. Though a commissioner’s conduct was being closely examined, no further information was released as to which member’s removal or discipline was up for debate.

Once the commissioners returned from executive session during Monday night’s meeting, however, Mayor Pro Tem Katrisha Waldridge made a motion based on Thompson’s request to conduct a hearing pursuant to KRS 83A.0409, which in part states that “no elected officer shall be removed without having been given the right to a full public hearing.”

Per the statute, “any elected officer, in case of misconduct, incapacity, or willful neglect in the performance of the duties of his office, may be removed from office by a unanimous vote of the members of the legislative body exclusive of any member to be removed, who shall not vote in the deliberation of his removal.”

The statute also states that if the elected is removed, he or she has the right to appeal the decision to the county circuit court and the appeal will be on the record.

This motion was seconded by Commissioner Leesa Unger and passed with a unanimous vote.

Waldridge also made a motion to approve written charges by the Frankfort Board of Commissioners against Thompson for the hearing and authorized Mayor Layne Wilkerson to sign the charges.

Commissioner Kelly May seconded and the motion passed with a unanimous vote.

Charles Cole, an attorney for Sturgill Turner Barker Moloney PLLC, of Lexington, told the commission that Thompson is being represented by Thomas Clay, who he said was sent a text but did not join after the executive session.

“Mayor, I would offer a suggestion for a motion for the date and time for this hearing that’s been authorized and allow that to be coordinated through your office and office of the city attorney and city clerk along with the counsel that will be involved,” Cole said.

Waldridge made the motion per Cole’s request, which May seconded.

During the vote, which was ultimately unanimous, Unger said she would like to explain her reasoning behind voting “yes.”
“I think it would be in the best interest of the city if Commissioner Thompson would resign and submit a public apology. We’ve already put hiring a police chief on hold. Projects will take a back seat, and taxpayer money will be used to deal with this situation,” she said. “But, I do support the hearing for removal because I think our city deserves better.”

The city was made aware of Thompson’s alleged misconduct on Dec. 19, which has been under review and investigations into the matter since. However, specific details of the charges against the commissioner have been kept to closed door meetings by city leaders.

A date and time for Thompson’s hearing have yet to be determined.