BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Birmingham Water Works customers spoke to Sherry Lewis at Thursday’s public board meeting and called for her resignation.
“She’s still calling shots. She has a voice. And right now with the allegations against her, she has no voice for the people of Birmingham. None whatsoever,” said Dorothy Northington.
“I’m asking you to step aside until this is cleared up,” said Charlene Cannon. “It looks bad for the county.”
“What I would say to you, Ms Lewis, is that I’ve heard that you’re a very faithful lady. You should just embrace that faith and do what you have to do, but for now, as we’ve heard, you need to step aside,” said retired Birmingham Water Works employee Isaac Ballard.
Lewis appeared to listen as the public spoke, but she offered no response.
“They have a right to do that, just like they could call for my resignation. And of course I would have to make a decision on whether or not I’m going to do that. I think that’s a decision she’s going to have to make,” said board member George Munchus after the meeting.
Lewis turned herself in Wednesday at the Jefferson County Jail after she along with two others were indicted on felony state ethics charges.
The charges allege that Lewis used her office for personal gain and that she corruptly influenced official action.
“This is still the United States of America. And all of us are assumed innocent until proven guilty,” said Munchus.
After the meeting, outside the Birmingham Water Works building, Carlos Chaverst, a Birmingham activist, was arrested on an outstanding warrant while calling for Lewis’s resignation.
Inside, Chaverst had spoken to the board after the meeting had adjourned.
“You all are board members. It is up to you. We’re holding you all accountable. Please do the right thing. Sherry Lewis does not need to be sitting in that seat when she’s been charged with embezzlement charges,” Chaverst said.
Lewis did not respond to the public’s calls for her resignation and she avoided the media after the meeting.
“I know she’s the board chair and we elected her. But now as a result of what has happened the board is still strong. We’re still going to have open and public meetings. We’re going to welcome the dialogue from the media,” said Munchus.
Mayor Randall Woodfin responded to Lewis’s indictment Thursday afternoon in a press release:
“There is no higher priority for my administration than creating transparency and ensuring high ethical standards in everything we do. As a former prosecutor, I know that the indictments damage public confidence and raise questions about the integrity of our institutions. My office will work with the city council and any other authority to help bring to light any improper activities, and we will respond appropriately to ensure that the public’s best interests are protected as we move forward.”
– Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin