Phoenix council president quits

PHOENIX — Despite nearing the end of his term in December, Phoenix City Council President Bruce Sophie left the council on Monday the way most council members have done in recent years — by resigning.

Sophie's resignation was announced by mayor Carlos DeBritto, for whom Sophie has been filling in because of the mayor's health concerns.

Council members discussed a string of e-mails they felt were linked to Sophie's resignation with councilmen Terry Helfrich and Mike McKey wondering if further council discussion would change Sophie's mind.

Helfrich, who is the council vice president, accepted Sophie's resignation "with reservation." He said he had covinced Sophie "not to resign" and that he appreciated Sophie's commitment.

McKey said he felt the resignation might have been avoided if, "from e-mails and stuff received, that we had some way, somehow, of talking it out a little more as a council."

During Monday's meeting, recently appointed Councilman Stan Bartell urged the city to "re-examine itself as to why are we having such a high turnover" of council members.

Stitt suggested that the council's repeated loss of members could be related to time commitments that "can push a burnout situation."

McKey noted that in a small city "south of us, they don't seem to be losing councilors like we are." Perhaps, Phoenix is "doing something wrong," McKey said.

Contacted at home after the meeting, Sophie confirmed he had resigned "effective Tuesday morning" and that time commitment and volume of materials related to his council position had become overwhelming.

"You just get tired. My family needs more time and I just got burnt out on all that," he said, adding that, as city liaison for the Regional Problem Solving process and a committee working with state officials on plans for rebuilding the Fern Valley interchange, he'd juggled 400-500 pages of new material every few months.

"It's a lot of meetings, a lot of stress. We've got a couple people who want to run in November so I figured put them in now to give some continuity for the council. I was happy to do a lot of work as you do on the council but it's time for some new blood."

Sophie's is the latest in a string of council members to resign in mid-term. In recent years; they include: former Mayor Vicki Bear, Murray LaHue, Lee Carrau, Diane Stewart, Terry Rombach, Gary Reed, Hal Burks, Steve Schulman and former council President Dean Martin.

Politicians aside, the city has had turnover with city administration, losing two interim managers in the past few years, two police chiefs — one to resignation and another arrested for interfering in an investigation — and recently terminated the employment of longtime City Recorder Betty Smith due to limited funding.

Share This Story