Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Sean Lewis tendered his letter of resignation as Pima Town Manager on Thursday night and it was accepted by the Pima Town Council with a 3-2 vote.
By Jon Johnson
PIMA – After four years at the helm, Sean Lewis tendered his resignation as Pima Town Manager Thursday night. Lewis informed the council of his intention prior to the start of a special council meeting to discuss his employment.
In front of a standing-room-only crowd in Pima Town Hall, Mayor C.B. Fletcher announced Lewis had submitted his resignation and moved that the council should accept it. The motion was carried by a 3-2 vote with council members Sherrill Teeter and Lucas Hoopes voting in dissension.
According to Councilor Teeter, the resignation letter includes a confidentiality clause that prohibits the council from discussing the contents of the letter or any severance package.
“I understand that some of the previous town managers got some severance packages, so I understand why he asked for (it), but I just think it’s a bit excessive for what we’ve just gone through,” Hoopes told the Gila Herald.
Prior to the notification of Lewis’ resignation, a few people spoke regarding the situation at a call to the public. Former Pima Council Member Jesus “Chuy” Cabrera spoke favorably of Lewis and asked the council to keep Lewis as town manager. Cabrera said the town has grown under Lewis’ leadership unlike he has ever seen his lifetime in the town and asked the council to give Lewis a second chance.
“People make mistakes, but getting rid of Sean is worse,” Cabrera said.
Hoopes and Teeter had previously voted to terminate Lewis over what they believed to have been inappropriate use of a town credit card during the 2019/2020 Fiscal Year.
“Everybody thinks I have an issue with Sean Lewis; a personal issue – I have a hatred or an animosity – a vendetta against him,” Hoopes said. “That is not true one ounce. I think he’s done an incredible job for the town of Pima. I think the amount of work that he’s done – some of the successes that he’s had; some of the businesses that he’s brought to town – I don’t have an issue with that at all.”
“When you start using the town’s money for personal uses, I’m not about that. We’re not a lending institution. We’re not a bank. We don’t give personal loans to people. I have an issue with that.”
Hoopes produced multiple sheets of credit card charges that he questioned the validity. Lewis has previously said he had made accounting errors and had briefly used a town credit card during a family emergency after his bank canceled his card by mistake and that he paid that money back. He also has been paying back any instance of the use of a credit card without a receipt justifying the charge.
Lewis told the Gila Herald that, in the end, he decided to turn in his resignation for the betterment of the town and council.
“I feel like in order for the council to save themselves and get work done in Pima it will be easier if I move on,” Lewis said.
Lewis accomplished a number of projects for the town over his four-year tenure, including upgrading the town’s sewer payment system, improving the pool with solar parking, the OHS building, and new economic development.
He said he will remain in the area and hopes to continue in the economic development field. He said he looks forward to working with the town of Pima in the near future and thanked the town’s staff for his time working with them.
“Even through all this adversity, we’re still close, we’re still tight,” Lewis said. “That’s a testament to who they are . . . We have friendships here that will never go away. Even with the council. Those council members? I’m friends with them, and I’m going to remain friends with them. Now that we have this behind us, I think it will be a lot easier for that to happen.”
“I’ve met many wonderful, wonderful people and I want to say ‘thank you’ to all (of) them,” Lewis said. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m still going to be around . . . It’s been a pleasure for four years, and I can’t wait to see everybody out and about.”
Lewis is expected to remain on the job until Aug. 18. Councilmember Teeter told the Gila Herald that the council has already received applications for the town manager position and that it will likely have an interim manager until a new town manager is hired. Teeter did not name who would serve as interim town manager.