DDA Membership Shakeup Coming?

Membership pool for Duluth Downtown Development Authority not as limited as once thought.


The City of Duluth has issued a notice seeking individuals interested in serving on the Downtown Development Authority after Councilman Billy Jones discovered that three of the members aren’t restricted to living in the city. The terms of the current seven members expire on March 10, and they all are apparently willing to continue to serve.

It appears, according to Jones, that there has been misinformation inadvertently circulated over the years about who is eligible to serve on the DDA, which is charged with revitalizing and redeveloping the city’s downtown (central business district) and creating employment opportunities. The DDA has the authority to finance projects to benefit downtown and issue bonds. It also reviews potential projects and makes recommendations to the Duluth City Council.

Four of the DDA members must live in the city. Three members may live outside the city in Gwinnett County. All seven members must have an economic interest in downtown Duluth. “The pool is not as limited,” Jones said.

Duluth Economic Development Manager Chris McGahee confirmed that all seven members would like to be reappointed.

Members are appointed for four-year terms, and all their terms expire at the same time. Originally, City Attorney Lee Thompson explained DDA members served six-year staggered terms. When the state legislature changed the terms to four years in 1994, it failed to carry over the language staggering the terms, he said.

To return to staggered terms, Lee said, the city council could appoint three or four members to four-year terms. The remaining members could be allowed to serve for two years without being reappointed. Legally, they could continue to serve and then be reappointed to four-year terms after two years had passed, he said. Or the city could ask the legislature to change the law.

Current DDA members include Ken Odum, chairman; Rob Ponder, vice chair/treasurer; Shelly Howard, secretary; Ed Gulesserian, Kathryn Willis, Ron Osterloh, and Bill Weaver. At its Feb. 13 meeting, the city council appointed Weaver to fill the unexpired term of Dennis Taylor, but only until March 10, 2012, the same day the terms of the other six members end.

The Downtown Development Authority meets the third Tuesday of every month at Duluth City Hall at 6:30 p.m. Its February meeting is tonight.

For more information and an application visit http://www.duluthga.net/city-and-other-services/boards-commissions/.

The city has numerous boards, authorities and commissions and accepts applications even though it filled other vacancies at its Feb. 13 meeting.

Also at the Feb. 13 meeting the city council changed the composition of the Alcoholic Beverage Review Board to allow two members rather than just one member to be a resident of the city or an owner or operator of a business located in the city.  The change was recommended by the board’s Chairman Slade Lail. Five of the seven members will be required to live in the city limits. Previously this requirement was six members.


Dusty Graham February 21, 2012 at 06:37 PM
The City really needs to stop looking at these posts as lifetime appointments. Most (all?) positions filled were simply a re-upping of an expired term. One councilman asked how do you refuse to reappoint someone who has served for three or four terms? SImple. You say, "Thank you for filling your term and performing this service." Then you advertise for ALL boards and see who else wants a turn. There should have been a shake up across the board. I was disappointed that things turned out as they did.


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