Being a member of 11 different
professional organizations and 12 civic organizations seems like it would keep
any person stressed out, but Rita OBrien Sims Franklin, 60, is living
this extraordinary lifestyle and making it seem like a walk in the
Franklin, who was born in Selma,
Ala., attended Judson College as a freshman from 1961 to 1962. She then
transferred to Huntingdon College where she spent two and a half years studying
before deciding to go to work to raise her growing family.
Franklin has had many occupations in
her lifetime including Interior Designer and Accountant for Sims Furniture and
Interiors, a family owned store in Selma. She served as a board member for the
Selma Planning Commission from 1970 to 1980; a council member of the Selma City
Council from 1980 to 1984 and from 1988 to the present. Franklin also served as
President Pro-Tempore for that same council from 1992 to 1993 and from 2000 to
Explaining her interest in the
government, Franklin said that it all began with a little
Her mother was a member of the Garden
Club at the time and needed to obtain permission from the Selma City Council to
plant some azaleas on a piece of city property. Franklin volunteered to speak
to the council for her mother. After presenting her dilemma, however, Franklin
was reprimanded by one of the male council members for bothering to
They call it baptism by
fire, Franklin said. Anyway, he made me mad so I told him I would
run in the next election and beat him. And she did in 1980, becoming the
first woman to be elected to the City Council and later to President
Franklins success didnt
stop there, though. Shes been a member of several professional
organizations including the National League of Cities where she is the Steering
Committee Member of Transportation, Infrastructure and Service; Women in
Municipal Government where she is the immediate past president; and the Alabama
Urban Forestry Association and the Alabama League of Municipalities. Franklin
is also a member of many civic organizations including the Selma Area Food
Bank, Smithsonian Institution Historical Association of Washington, the
Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York, Selma Arts Council, the Community
Action Agency, Library of Congress Association Charter Member and the
Selma-Dallas County Historic Preservation Society.
In 1996 and 1999, Franklin completed
40 advanced credit hours of training in Municipal Government courses to earn
the designation of "Advanced Certified Municipal Official" and in 2000 she
completed training in the Alabama Urban Forestry Association.
I dont work under
pressure, Franklin said, when asked about her busy schedule. I
never put anything off, just take it as it comes and I love being on the City
Women in Municipal Government is just
one of many interesting organizations that Franklin is involved in. WIMG,
established in 1974, is an affliiate of the National League of Cities
Organization, and WIMG members try to learn and to educate others on important
civic issues. Franklin served as president in 2002 and on the selection panel
for the "Good Housekeeping/Wyeth Award for Women in Government" with former
congresswoman and vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro.
Franklin has been the recipient of
many awards, most of which are on display in Old Depot Museum in
I dont put much in
winning awards, she admitted. Its not all about that. I just
do what needs to be done. By pulling together we (women) can and do make a
However, Franklin stated that she
wouldnt be running for reelection this August.
The community wants me to run
for mayor or probate judge, Franklin said. I havent really
decided what Ill run for, though.
As for her short time spent at Judson
College, Franklin said she always wanted to return.
I enjoyed friendships with the
girls and the professors were nice, Franklin said. They had an
interest in you and wanted you to do well.
Franklin is the mother of two
daughters, Susan, 32, and Sarah, 26.
If I had one thing to say to
young women today, Franklin said. I would tell them to get an
education and be able to make a living for themselves and their children.
Thats most important.
Franklin is a member of First Baptist
Church in Selma and lives in Selma with her mother, May Frances OBrien
Sims, and their white German shepherd, Benjamin OBrien Sims Franklin