NEW IBERIA, La. (KLFY)– There is a residency dispute among representatives in the New Iberia Housing Authority that is challenging the position of Chairman Darren Sophus.
Housing Authority rules require that anyone who serves on the board must live within the city limits. Board Member Raymond Lewis claims Chairman Darren Sophus lives outside the city limits and says he needs to resign.
Lewis says Sophus does in fact has two addresses, meaning he has been serving illegally. Sophus has a home in New Iberia. According to the Clerk of Court office in Lafayette, he bought another home in Youngsville.
“It meets neither one as well as being a registered voter and living in the city. Voting in the city. He meets neither criteria,” Lewis said.
Lewis says that the application is clear, and by signing the application there is a note at the bottom stating that the information provided is true to the best of an applicant’s knowledge. Therefore, it is clear what needs to be done now. He feels that disputes about Sophus’s residency will be a distraction from challenges the housing authority is facing.
Fred Wesley, the Vice Chairman of the New Iberia Housing Authority, said, “The Chairman had been on this board for numerous years when I was Chairman. He is a member of Iberia Parish. He’s a registered voter of Iberia Parish. He grew up here in Iberia Parish, so we don’t have any objections or any issues with him as far as the concern is to be whether he is authorized to be on the board or not.”
Wesley said when Sophus was elected by the City Council at that time, it was part of their guidelines for making sure that the candidate was qualified. A document describing the guidelines and requirements of New Iberia Housing Authority member will be included at the end of this story.
When News 10 asked about the second home, Wesley said, “that doesn’t have anything to do with it. The thing that really has something to do with it is the voter registration that tells where he is domicile is.”
“He could have a house in Lafayette. He can have one in St. Martinville. He could have one in New York that doesn’t have anything to do with it. The thing that really matters is that he has to be a domicile Iberia Parish at least that,” Wesley added.
Lewis, on the other hand, disagrees.
“As long as he’s still serving as Chairman of the New Iberia Housing Authority Board, I will not be attending meetings because they are illegal,” he said.
In regards to adding comments about Lewis, Wesley said Lewis is a new council member of the board, and is learning about the New Iberia housing authority.
“As of now, we’re not formulating any opinion about him. Other than respecting the fact that he is a council that was appointed by the city of New Iberia.”
News 10 reached out to Mayor Freddie Decourt on the matter and never received any comments. The Chairman Darren Sophus gave no comment on record as well.