The mayor’s man Friday

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 17, 2003

James switches from teaching to politics

By Alan Riquelmy / Selma Times – Journal

Walk into Mayor James Perkins Jr.’s office on any given day and chances are you’ll run into Sherri James.

James, administrative assistant to the mayor, has been at city hall since October 2000. As administrative assistant, James sits in on meetings with Perkins, follows up on communications with city department heads, and schedules meetings with department heads, county and city officials.

However, James said her work stays at the office and doesn’t follow her home at night.

The position of administrative assistant came to her, James said, when Perkins asked if she would take the job back in 2000.

James confessed that at first she was scared to death and that she told Perkins she didn’t understand politics.

She said Perkins assured her that she didn’t have to understand politics. She just had to get the know the people and not let any negative conversations or accusations well up inside.

Before she accepted her present position, James was an educational coordinator for the Community Intensive Treatment for Youth program at Craig Field. As a teacher at the facility, James supervised tests, handled monthly reports to the department of education and taught reading.

While admitting that she did miss teaching and the students, James said she feels she can help even more students by being at her new position in city hall.

The road to Selma for James started in Mobile. After graduating from high school, James said she wanted to be a teacher but allowed someone to talk her out of it because of the low pay. Instead, she got a degree in business administration in Illinois.

“But guess what,” James said,” business administration doesn’t make any money either.”

After working as an accounts payable clerk and office manager in Illinois, James said she returned to school and got her masters degree in education.

She had wanted to return to the South, James added, but didn’t know exactly where to go. That’s when her sister suggested she move to Selma.

James accepted and took the job with the CITY program in 1997.

Though not a native Selmian, James said that she has come to know the city, understand it and love it.

From here, James added, there are no definite plans for herself or husband Ollie James except “wherever God leads me.”