Visitor Center draws candidates

Thursday's dedication of Biloxi's new Visitors Center, Civic Center and Library drew a couple thousand residents and where people gather just two weeks before the primary election, candidates follow.

Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican candidate for governor, was among the speakers seated on the front porch of the Visitors Center, looking out at the Biloxi Lighthouse. When he first came to the Coast with church members and supplies after Hurricane Katrina, Bryant said he couldn't get his bearings among the debris until he spotted the lighthouse still standing.

His opponent, Coast businessman Dave Dennis, stood among the crowd during the speeches and later greeted many people by name as they toured the new Visitors Center.

“I think it's a wonderful symbol of the continued resiliency and building back of the Gulf Coast,” said Dennis.

Sen. Tommy Gollott and state Reps. Randall Patterson, Jeff Guice and Scott Delano were among the other candidates in the crowd. Delano had a starring role, since he and his son are pictured in the 8-minute video that will be shown in the theater when the new Visitors Center opens in August.

Harrison County supervisors Windy Swetman and Connie Rockco, who are up for reelection, also toured the Visitors Center and shook hands.

“I think it's first class. Everyone in the state of Mississippi can be proud of it,” said Swetman.

“I've never seen smiles so big and broad,” said Rockco. She said residents may not see it, but the Coast has come a long way since Hurricane Katrina.

-- Mary Perez/Sun Herald