Gulfport Mayor Ken Combs' Statement

Because I love the City of Gulfport, I want to share with you why I made such a bad choice of words in the statement I made last week.

The City of Gulfport has financial problems that can be solved either by severely raising taxes and water rates, or through sensible new development. As Mayor, one project I have tried to attract to our City is the Rockwood Retail development, which would be south of I-10 between U.S. Highway 49 and Canal Road. It would bring millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs to Gulfport. Even The Sun Herald's Sunday editorial said, and I quote, "After nearly 10 years, [developer Butch] Ward has suffered enough. He should no longer be held hostage by groundless grievances, Nor should he remain a punching bag for competing interest in either the public or private sectors."

I believe this project would help our City, and I see that those groundless grievances against it have persistently and repeatedly been manufactured by pandering politicians, some being egged on by private interests afraid of competition.

My frustration at these tactics boiled over in the form of some words which I sincerely regret. I was referring neither to race nor to the entire community of North Gulfport, but I can see how my ill chosen words were taken as such. Out of frustration, I was referring to the few people who refuse to listen to facts about this project because they are being manipulated by the "competing interests in the public [and] private sectors" referred to in The Sun Herald editorial. While the terms I used were inexcusable, I meant only to condemn those few people whose contempt for this project is based on political self interests and private business interests afraid of competition.

Finally, I hope the Rockwood project can be weighed on its merits. I believe it would be good for our City. I hope the groundless grievances referred to by The Sun Herald will not further hold up the positive attributes this project can bring to all of our citizens.

Ken Combs
Mayor, City of Gulfport