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MONROE, La. – The Monroe City Council approved the appointment of two new members to the Southside Economic Development District’s board of directors earlier this week.

The City Council approved Mayor Friday Ellis’ appointment of Dr. Harrington Watson III and City Councilwoman Kema Dawson’s appointment of Marty Campbell to SEDD’s board. The council acted on the appointments during its regular meeting Tuesday.

SEDD levies a two-percent hotel occupancy tax within the district in southern Monroe to spur economic development there.

Dawson told The Ouachita Citizen she chose to replace Vance Price, who had served on SEDD’s board since 2018, with Campbell because she plans to appoint Price to a citizens advisory committee in light of his experience as a local pastor.

Dawson explained she trusted Campbell, who serves as a local pastor, and believes he will make southern Monroe’s success a priority.

“I trust him and trust he’s going to have the interest of the southside in his heart when he makes decisions,” Dawson said. “And I want to see SEDD move in another direction.”

According to Dawson, she did not know what plans SEDD Executive Director Charles Theus had in mind for the economic development district.

“I have not spoken to him recently, but I have had a conversation with him,” Dawson said. “I don’t know what his plans have been. I still don’t know what he’s trying to do.”

In an interview on Tuesday, Theus claimed SEDD had plans for the future but he declined to identify them.

“The old board passed these things, and I want to see if the new board wants to go forward with that or make changes,” Theus said. “I just want to give them the respect they are due.”

According to Theus, SEDD had begun to pursue projects while former Mayor Jamie Mayo was in office and would renew its pursuit of those same projects. Ellis defeated Mayo in the mayoral election in July.

“I, as the executive director, am really excited about getting the board to move forward on our projects that we left off before the election when Mayo was in, so we will try to pick up on that,” Theus said. “We have some packages that we require the City Council to bless and then we will move forward with it.”

Theus commended Dawson but did not offer a comment on Ellis’ appointment to SEDD’s board.

“I don’t know the candidates, but I do know the people who are doing the appointing,” Theus said. “And I think they’re probably going to work out just fine. I know Kema Dawson and her heart is in the community.”

Ellis explained he chose Watson to serve on SEDD’s board because of Watson’s experience in education and passion for southern Monroe.

“He’s very passionate about education, and as we know, education and economic development go hand in hand,” Ellis said. “He’s somebody who is very passionate about seeing south Monroe thrive.”

Watson currently serves as the principal at Wossman High School. Watson would replace Wardell Coward on SEDD’s board.

Ellis did not disclose his reasons for replacing Coward, though he said there were no issues. Coward has served on the board since 2001. Ellis explained he chose to appoint Watson because of their personal relationship.

According to Ellis, his wife, Ashley, and Watson previously worked together in the Ouachita Parish school system.

“I have a great relationship with Dr. Watson,” Ellis said. “I think just understanding each other, being able to communicate, being able to work together and already having a great working relationship just sweetened the deal.”