Politics

This story has been updated.

A group of Metro Council members unanimously voted to remove controversial councilman Dan Johnson from his position, they announced Friday afternoon at a special hearing.

The decision came weeks after the Democrat struck a deal with fellow council members to retain his seat following allegations of sexual harassment by three women. Friday’s hearing was called because some council members accused Johnson of violating the terms of his deal, which includes limits on how much time he can spend at City Hall outside of official meetings.

Last week, community members held a rally calling for Johnson’s removal. 

The three-person group that decided Johnson’s future on Metro Council includes councilwomen Barbara Sexton Smith and Barbara Shanklin and councilman Rick Blackwell, all Democrats. Johnson was not present at the special meeting.

Those councilmembers deliberated and then publicly shared some of the evidence they considered in deciding whether to remove Johnson. That included previously unreleased still images from security footage showing that Johnson overstayed his allowed time at City Hall, as well as an interview with WDRB and Facebook post, which fellow councilman Bill Hollander said violated the “spirit and letter of the agreement.”

Mayor Greg Fischer issued a statement after the hearing, expressing appreciation to the council group. He also called on council to quickly find Johnson’s replacement.

“Our community must have confidence that harassment and discrimination of any kind is not tolerated,” Fischer wrote. “I appreciate the Council for its deliberation and insistence on member accountability. I encourage the body to quickly seat a new councilmember so the people of District 21 have representation on Metro Council.”

Johnson previously agreed to not appeal the decision, but he still has the right to do so, said Tony Hyatt, spokesman for the council’s majority caucus.

“Anybody can appeal anything if they want to,” Hyatt said previously.

Member of the council court said Friday they were confident Johnson would not appeal.

The council now has 30 days to fill Johnson’s vacant seat. It will collect resumes and applications from District 21 residents before holding interviews to choose and appoint a successor.

“We have 30 days, so we need citizens who are interested in leading District 21 in a positive way, we need you to step forward,” Blackwell said following the meeting.

Johnson has served in public office since 1991, when he joined the Board of Alderman. He was elected to the Metro Council in 2002, and represented the areas in and around Southside, Beechmont and the airport.

Johnson has not publicly commented on his removal.

Amina Elahi is WFPL's City Reporter.