Politics & Government

Bay St. Louis candidate forum draws crowd that didn’t stay long

Candidates for the Bay St. Louis municpal elections wait their turn to speak during a political forum at the Community Center on Wednesday, April 19, 2017.
Candidates for the Bay St. Louis municpal elections wait their turn to speak during a political forum at the Community Center on Wednesday, April 19, 2017. wmuller@sunherald.com

The Hancock Democratic and Republican committees held a joint political forum Wednesday for the candidates in the upcoming municipal elections, but questions on the city’s most-pressing issues were few and far between.

In the first round, the moderators asked each candidate two questions. The first was whether elected officials should obtain certification from the Mississippi Municipal League, which teaches basic municipal government policies and procedures.

Not a single candidate responded, “No.” Incumbent Councilman Doug Seal pointed out no candidate would ever say they’d decline training on how to do the job.

The second question asked what grade the candidates would give, A through F, to the level of cooperation shown by the current City Council. Answers were all across the board, with the incumbents giving higher grades and the other candidates giving mostly lower grades and criticizing the council for being divisive.

However, the City Council for almost the last two years has made most of its decisions with unanimous votes. The division, incumbent Councilman Jeff Reed said, is between council members and the mayor.

Nearly half the crowd left after the first round.

“This is a joke,” said one woman in attendance.

The second round of questions dealt with golf carts and swimming pools. Notably absent were questions on financial matters, which have been Bay St. Louis’ biggest problems for the last year.

A second candidate forum hosted by the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government was scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday.

Bay St. Louis candidates

  • Democratic Mayor Les M. Fillingame Sr. is being challenged in the primary by Mike Favre and Rachael Ramsey. The winner will face Republican Jeff Harding in the general election.
  • Democrats T.J. Collier, Greg Farve and Michael “Mike” Weems are running for the at-large seat held by Favre. The winner will face Republican Gary Knoblock and independent Susan M. “Susie” Veglia in the general.
  • In Ward 1, independent incumbent Doug Seal will face Republican George Williams in the general election.
  • In Ward 2, incumbent Democrat Wendy McDonald will face Carol A. Strohmetz in the primary. The winner will face Republican Eugene “Gene” J. Hoffman IV in the general.
  • In Ward 3, incumbent Democrat Jeffrey J. Reed will face Kevin Paul Avery in the primary. There are no Republicans running.
  • In Ward 4, Democrats Gisele Marie Bradley and Tad Black and Republicans Larry Smith and Kyle Lewis will meet in their party’s primaries. The winners will meet in the general election to replace Bobby Compretta, who isn’t running.
  • In Ward 5, incumbent Democrat Joey Boudin will meet Republican Buddy Zimmerman in the general election.
  • In Ward 6, incumbent independent Lonnie Falgout will face Republican Josh DeSalvo in the general election.
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