Mayors, councils across South Mississippi should do more than business as usual

Shea Dobson hugs his mother, Mary Debell, after winning the election to be the next Ocean Springs mayor on Tuesday.
Shea Dobson hugs his mother, Mary Debell, after winning the election to be the next Ocean Springs mayor on Tuesday. amccoy@sunherald.com File

We congratulate the six new mayors — Dane Maxwell in Pascagoula, Mario King in Moss Point, Phil Torjusen in Gautier, Shea Dobson in Ocean Springs, George Bass in Long Beach and Mike Favre in Bay St. Louis.

We congratulate the new council members and aldermen and alderwomen. And finally, we congratulate the officials voters chose to keep in city governments across the Coast.

Now, as they say, comes the hard part. They have to govern.

And to govern, they must overcome the divisiveness that has spread from the nation’s capital to the city halls of the Coast. To be effective, to truly do what’s best for the people they serve, the mayors must lead, and they must heal these divisions and unite the city governments.

We believe the voters spoke loudly and said they are fed up with the petty squabbles, the bickering that in too many instances have replaced governance.

The days following the election have been encouraging. There have been gracious concessions and humble acceptances.

Consider Heather Abigail Eason. She lost a tough race to Rickey Authement in the Republican primary for the open seat in Ocean Springs’ Ward 2. She caught up with candidate Matthew Pavlov on Facebook after he lost the general election for the Ward 5 seat.

“I'd happily welcome the opportunity to work with you on something,” she wrote. “You have so much to offer the community.”

Pavlov wrote back: “Your positivity, passion and smarts are an inspiration.”

That’s refreshing. And we hope it’s a sign that contentiousness will be a thing of the past.

So much more can be accomplished when labels are dropped and people spend more time looking for common ground than they spend accentuating differences.

And it’s not just Ocean Springs. Bay St. Louis, Pascagoula, Long Beach, Gautier and Moss Point will be getting fresh starts with a new mayor and some new council members. Let’s hope some fresh faces will mean less fighting and fewer shenanigans there as well.

Most of the candidates promised to be open and honest. Many used social media well. Let’s hope that continues in their service to the public.

They owe it to the people they serve to keep them informed of and involved in the city’s business. That’s the way to build trust and combat cynicism.

Every city faces formidable challenges. And every city has some unique assets.

The most practical of those assets is their citizens. The leaders should call on them early and often.

Again, we wish them the best of luck because when our leaders win, everyone wins.

Shea Dobson defeated incumbent mayor Connie Moran on June 6, 2017, to become the next mayor of Ocean Springs.

The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.