Ocean Springs mayoral race expected to be close

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Political observers say it's one of the tightest races on the coast this election season. With just a few days until Tuesday's vote, the race for mayor of Ocean Springs may be too close to call.

Mayor Connie Moran, the first term, incumbent Democrat faces a strong, well financed challenge from political newcomer, Republican Scott Walker.

WLOX News will profile both candidates, beginning with the challenger, Scott Walker.

"When you knock on a door, give them the card, ask them for their support.  And if they'd like a sign, you'll have it for them," said Scott Walker, as he instructed a group of young campaign workers.

Scott Walker's last name is a perfect description of his ambitious, grass roots campaign. The young Republican, a longtime aide to and protege of former Senator Trent Lott, is all about walking door to door.

"We've hit 8500 doors since this campaign started and we're going to continue to go. Our goal each day is 200 doors," said Walker.

"Let's go talk to them when they get out of their car," he said, as a couple pulled into their driveway.

It's easy to see how he's has lost 17 pounds walking the neighborhoods.

"Reminding people. Getting people out to the polls. Thank you very much for your support. And thank you too, I'm honored to have a sign in your yard," Walker told the family.

Scott Walker campaign signs blanket the city.  Among his slogans is the not-so-subliminal: "A mayor you can be proud of."

"As I started this campaign, I watched our current mayor come to meetings 30 minutes late, go to events, or not show up at all. And that is something that, that represents the entire City of Ocean Springs. And when they elect me mayor, I promise to be a full time, on time mayor and a mayor you can be proud of on and off the clock," says the candidate.

Walker says property tax relief is the cry he hears over and over while visiting door to door.

"So we have to work on lowering those... I, as mayor, will sit with the Board of Aldermen, with the Board of Supervisors, with the school board, and plead for them to lower the millage rate where there are no windfalls. At this economic time, there should be no windfalls," said Walker.

Walker says with Katrina relief money about to end, his vast connections in Washington and Jackson will better serve the needs of Ocean Springs.

"We've all heard that September is the end of Katrina money. As we move on over the next four years, you have to ask yourself, Who's going to fight to fill that void in Ocean Springs? Who has the better relationships to fill that void through federal and state money?"

"We're not going to quit walking until the very end," said Walker, who plans on walking until the polls close on Tuesday.

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