GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Leonard Fuller says the City of Gautier has come a long way since it became a city less than 30 years ago.
"When we first started, we had a small force, police department and had a makeshift little room for them," he remembered with a laugh. "We had no jail, not that we need one."
They may not have had much, but Fuller and others who helped build Gautier say there was enough community dedication to carry them.
"Citizens of Gautier are independently minded," said former Mayor Ken Taylor. "We felt as though we should be our own city, so that's exactly why we incorporated initially."
"We were looking for bigger and better things, and still today we're looking for bigger and better things," Fuller said of his beloved home town.
The city is no stranger to new beginnings, and they've recently voted in another one.
Only two incoming councilmen have served before. Those are Hurley Ray Guillotte (D-Ward 2) and Johnny Jones (R-Ward 1). The other incoming councilmen are newcomers. They are Gordon Gollot (R- Ward 3), Scott MacFarland (R- Ward 4), Adam Colledge (R- Ward 5) and Don Nash (R- At Large).
Mayor-elect Tommy Fortenberry (R) is also a political newcomer, although he has patrolled the streets of Gautier as a police officer for the past three years.
Three of the incumbents, including Mayor Pete Pope, decided not to seek re-election, but several were soundly defeated at the polls. Former Gautier Mayor Ken Taylor said he believes this year's election was a loud cry for change.
"If the citizens have ever spoken out, it was now," Taylor said. "The citizens have spoken strongly, and said they want improvement in city government."
Taylor and Fuller aren't swayed by the incoming administration's newness. They both look forward to the city's new direction.
"I think the new administration coming is going to be very positive," Fuller said.
"I think the only thing we need is for the city, the individuals, the population, to get behind the new council," Taylor said. "[They] need to attend meetings, talk to them, talk to their representative. But I think we need to unite and get behind this new group, and let's all move forward positively."
These two men, who have helped shape Gautier's past, have high hopes for the city's future, in the next four years and decades to come.
"I think I will have about six or seven more generations that will live here in my family," Fuller said.
Swearing in for the new administration has been set for 6:00 p.m. Monday, July 6th, at the Gautier Convention Center.