Outspoken Prichard water board member says he will not be reappointed

Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 6:42 PM CDT
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PRICHARD, Ala. (WALA) - The Prichard water board soon will lose one of its most outspoken members.

Prichard Water Works & Sewer Board member John Johnson Jr.’s six-term ends on April 24. He told FOX10 News that the Prichard City Council is not going to reappoint him. He said in a text message that he has been told his “behavior” on the board was the issue.

Johnson has been a vocal critic of board Chairman Russell Heidelburg. Meetings during his tenure often were marked by loud disagreements between the board’s two factions.

Prichard City Council President George McCall now is soliciting applications for the position.

At a meeting on Monday in front of a standing-room only crowd, Johnson proposed that all five board members resign, but it failed on a 3-2 vote.

That split is not uncommon. The board frequently divides along those lines on matters large and small as the utility grapples with crumbling pipes, a declining customer base and other issues.

Prichard Mayor Jimmie Gardner addressed that divisions on the board during a news conference this week.

“The 3-2 split has always been a 3-2 split,” he said. “If you go back, and you can go back as far as you like, for the most part, there’s always been a 3-2 split of the board. And when one facet is in control, everything is said to be running fine by that facet. When it changes, the new fastest says everything is fine.”

Gardner declined to fault the council for its past appointments, though.

“You don’t have a crystal ball to determine once they’re seated in a seat to how they’re gonna work, you know, how they’re gonna perform,” he said.