New Gulfport mayor hopes to avoid the city's past communication "chaos"

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport's new leadership team wants to hit the ground running when it takes over city hall next Thursday.  So, just six days before the inauguration, mayor-elect George Schloegel and all seven members of the next city council attended a day-long seminar.  They discussed some of the pertinent challenges Gulfport will face the next four years.

"Are we on camera?" advertising executive Reed Guice asked.

Guice was one of the panelists at a talk about communication in the city of Gulfport.  His camera question was made in jest.  But it was actually the centerpiece of a discussion about the importance of good communication between Gulfport leaders and the public.

So far, Mayor-elect Schloegel says he's "very happy with the chemistry that I see developing among some individuals that did not know each other before this election process started."

Schloegel believes the conference inside the West Side Community Center will prevent the communication chaos that often divided previous city administrations, and previous city councils.

New ward seven councilwoman Cara Pucheu says she's more than ready to end the counterproductive ways of the past.

"I think we're all willing to do what it takes to have open communication and to do what really is as a unit instead of the divisiveness that's been here," Pucheu said.

Communications experts like retired Mississippi Power executive Rex Kelly emphasized that whenever possible, elected leaders should stay on message.  And he said, that message should be consistent.  If someone strays, Kelly reminded the group, that could "create chaos and muddy the waters for Gulfport."

And that, he said, could be counterproductive to the goals of the city.

Gulfport will have a new mayor, and four first time council representatives when they're sworn in next week.  They all have individual ideas of what their wards, and what the city should look like.  The seminar emphasized that creating harmony with city hall is often the best way to get those ideas adopted.

Rusty Walker said he walked away from this seminar even more determined to listen to, and work with his colleagues, so the city's new leadership fights for one Gulfport.

"Without unity in Gulfport, Gulfport's not going to grow to that next level that we know it needs to," the ward four councilman-elect said.

The swearing in ceremony for Gulfport's next mayor is on Thursday, June 25th.

©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.