Kathy Smith

Councilwoman Kathy Smith is sworn in as mayor of Louisiana during a City Council meeting Monday evening. Photo by Stan Schwartz

LOUISIANA—Kathy Smith was appointed mayor of Louisiana during a city council meeting Monday evening in City Hall.

Smith, who was a member of the City Council, was sworn in by Louisiana City Clerk Memarie Gonzales during the brief meeting. The council also voted to appoint Kiffany Ardeneaux as the mayor pro tem.

The change in leadership came after Mayor Marvin Brown stepped down from the position, two weeks ago citing health reason. Brown had about 18 months left to serve on his first term as mayor. Smith, who was mayor pro tem at the time, stepped in to the job until the City Council could appoint another mayor to serve out Brown’s term in office.

But the transition of power did not go without some controversy. Leon Reeves, a Louisiana resident, was extremely upset with how the change in leadership was progressing. He spoke to the City Council before the vote was taken to appoint Smith as mayor.

He said he thought there had not been enough notice about the meeting, and was concerned about the legality of the City Council appointing a new mayor instead of having a general election so the people of Louisiana could pick their new mayor.

“I have no problem with you you’ve nominated,” he said. But he did note his concern about the way the city was proceeding.

Ardeneaux assured Reeves that adequate noticed had been given.

Council member Rodney Dolbeare said he had received several calls and emails from other Louisiana citizens who stated they approved of Smith’s nomination for mayor.

“As far the procedure on how we fill the vacant mayor’s position,” he said, “we talked with our counsel last week—this is the method by which statute spells out how we replace the mayor.” He noted that the statutes do not require them to have a special election.

Reeves said he was also upset about the amount of space allocated in the meeting room for audience members. Because of how the council members had to spread out in order to meet Pike County Health Department and CDC guidelines on social distancing, there was little room for spectators. Reeves had to stand in the hall until he could address the council.

Reeves noted that if a few more people had come to participate in the meeting, they would not have been able to stay in the hall.

Ardenaux said they understood the physical limitations of the building and that’s why they were also providing access to the meeting by Zoom, a cloud-based meeting software platform.

“None of us want this,” she said. “We would love to have people in the audience again, but we do have to follow certain rules and guidelines.”

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