In the approaching Democratic mayoral runoff election Tuesday, incumbent Mayor Les Fillingame will face Councilman-at-large Mike Favre.
The candidates were neck and neck in the primary two weeks ago, ending with a difference of 23 votes in Fillingame’s favor.
The third Democratic candidate, Rachael Ramsey, trailed in the primary, but possibly took away just enough votes to send her two opponents to a runoff.
She announced her endorsement of Favre last week.
“It is my pleasure to endorse Mike Favre in the election of mayor of Bay St. Louis,” Ramsey said. “After my loss in the primary, Mike and I had an in-depth conversation about the future of the town. We agree on important issues we are facing now.
“The importance of the vote cannot be overstated.”
In an interview with the Sun Herald, Fillingame said voters should consider how much the city has gained under his two terms as mayor.
“The first four years of my being mayor was really completing the (Hurricane Katrina) recovery and overseeing the city with the $80 million worth of infrastructure work and then on top of that overseeing the $60 million-plus worth of revitalization projects that came in,” he said.
During the revitalization phase, the mayor said, he had to lay down a path for the city’s sustainability.
“We were bringing online a lot of new things into the city of Bay St. Louis, and each and every one of them had to have its own maintenance routine, its own operation routine,” he said. “Community Hall is a good example. The harbor is a perfect example.”
Fillingame said the city is now operating with 12 to 15 percent fewer staff hours than it had been, yet is twice as large as it was before the storm.
“We have twice the territory geographically to cover as far as grass cutting is concerned, police enforcement is concerned, fire department enforcement is concerned,” he said. “And I think that we’re managing all of that extremely well.”
Challenging Fillingame, Favre said voters need only look below the surface of buildings and projects to see a city that is struggling both financially and with the public’s trust.
“I recognize the current shape of our city and have identified it is in need of desperate repair,” Favre said. “I firmly believe that I can influence the necessary change to make Bay St. Louis a standout city along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and throughout Mississippi.”
The city’s progress has halted, Favre said, and cannot continue with the current division between the administration and the City Council.
“I do not believe that maintaining the status quo will result in progress, and it is high time we start moving in a positive direction,” he said. “We must work to regain the public’s trust by being accountable and transparent, having a positive working relationship with all stakeholders in our community.
“I am prepared to bring new ideas, a new energy and a new attitude to our city government as your mayor, all while ensuring fair and equitable representation of all citizens.”
The winner of Tuesday’s runoff will go on to face Republican Jeff Harding in the June 6 general election.