LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — A city council in southwest Louisiana has appointed someone to fill a seat left vacant when its current representative died earlier this month.
The Lake Charles City Council, during a special meeting Tuesday, appointed Marshall Simien as interim councilman for District A, The American Press reported. He fills the seat following the Aug. 8 death of Councilwoman Mary Morris, who died of complications from COVID-19. She was 70 years old.
Simien was elected to the same seat in 2005 and served two terms before losing to Morris in the May 2013 election. He said he respected the work Morris did during her time on the council and notes he will not run for the seat when a special election is called.
“I just want to make sure that not only her legacy continues, but that the community would have good representation as we navigate through these disasters,” he said.
Simien said he was first sworn in to the City Council in July 2005, two months before Category 3 Hurricane Rita severely damaged Southwest Louisiana. He said the challenges that remain after Category 4 Hurricane Laura’s landfall last August motivated him to serve the district in the interim.
He mentioned meeting with residents who have been displaced in Houston for months and don’t plan to return to Lake Charles. “These are good, quality people, and it just broke my heart and stirred home what we’re facing here,” Simien said. “I’m just trying to help any way that I can.”
The council is scheduled to call for a special election at its Sept. 1 meeting. The next available elections are March 26, 2022 and April 30, 2022, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s website.
Simien will be sworn in ahead of the Sept. 1 council meeting.