The NAACP’s local chapter decried on Monday the appointment of Kay Kellogg Katz, who is white, to represent one of the Ouachita Parish Police Jury’s two majority-minority districts.
Rev. Ambrose Douzart, who is the president of Ouachita Parish’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chapter, voiced the group’s objection during the Police Jury’s regular meeting.
“We oppose the temporary appointment of Kay Katz,” Douzart said.
Katz was appointed earlier this month as an interim juror to represent District F until an election is held in October. Katz, a veteran of public service, is not a candidate for the District F seat in this fall’s election.
Douzart told The Ouachita Citizen that the NAACP’s objection centered on the Police Jury’s process of selecting Katz, not specifically Katz herself.
“It’s not that we find Ms. Katz unfit,” Douzart said. “It’s the outlook that the district she was appointed to is a minority district, and we would feel more comfortable if a minority was placed in the same.”
Douzart criticized the parish governing authority for failing to contact District F’s residents for input prior to appointing Katz.
“We’re not trying to downplay sister Katz,” Douzart said. “She just happen to get put in there. And we believe if the Police Jury had used a different process, we wouldn’t be here today.”
When asked whether the NAACP was asking for Katz to step down, Douzart said, “We’re not really asking for her resignation or for her to step down, but if it comes to that, so be it.”
Eva Dyann Wilson, with the Southside Community Involvement Association, expressed respect for Katz but objected to the Police Jury’s failure to appoint one of the other two people recommended by former Police Juror Pat Moore. Katz is completing the unexpired term left by Moore, who was elected to the state House of Representatives earlier this year.
Police Jury President Shane Smiley thanked Douzart and Wilson for voicing their concerns in an amicable manner.
“I really do appreciate that, and I think I speak on behalf of the entire jury when I say that,” Smiley said.
Later in the meeting, Police Juror Ollibeth Reddix —who is black and represents the Police Jury’s second majority-minority district — appeared to issue an apology for supporting Katz’s appointment, though she avoided specifics.
It was not immediately clear she was referring to Katz’s appointment until Reddix directed her remarks to Wilson and Douzart in the audience.
“I didn’t stand guard,” Reddix said. “I appreciate the way you presented your case, our case. I commend you.”
Concerning any resolution to the matter, Reddix simply said she would continue onward.
During an interview after the meeting, Reddix acknowledged she had not spoken with Katz about the matter.
“I have not spoken with her personally,” Reddix said.
Of asking Katz to resign, Reddix said, “That is a conversation I will have to have.”
When asked whether anyone had spoken to her personally about serving as District F’s representative, Katz said, “No comment.” Katz explained she did not want to discuss such matters, simply focus on the work.
“I’m very pleased to serve and I’ll work hard,” Katz said. “I truly felt I could do a world of good for the people of District F.”
According to Police Juror Scotty Robinson, differences in race would not hinder public services in District F.
“It’s not about skin or color,” Robinson said. “Roads, drainage, ditches — these are not Republican or Democrat, white or black issues.”
The Ouachita Citizen asked Robinson about how the Police Jury decided to appoint Katz instead of the candidates previously recommended by Moore. After her election, Moore recommended three candidates: King Dawson, Anna Reed, and Sherry Wilson. The Police Jury appointed Reed as an interim juror but later learned Reed did not live in the district. Reed resigned and has since become a candidate for the Police Jury’s District D seat (Reddix’s district).
“It all came so fast,” said Robinson, referring to Reed’s resignation. “Kay called. She was the first.”
Before Reed was appointed, Robinson was the only police juror to nominate Wilson as an interim juror. His motion failed to garner a second.
Later during the meeting, Katz asked for an update on the project building a Safe Route to School near Shady Grove School.
Assistant District Attorney Jay Mitchell, who serves as the Police Jury’s legal counsel, explained that the project would be advertised for bids later this year.
Katz also asked for a report on the Huntington Park Subdivision’s lights. Entergy is responsible for ensuring each light was working.
“If any residents see lights that are not working, they can call Entergy,” Mitchell said.