Waveland's new mayor promises changes

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - By Al Showers – bio | email

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - Waveland Mayor David Garcia and the Board of Aldermen were sworn into office Wednesday afternoon. Garcia is the city's former fire chief who defeated incumbent Mayor Tommy Longo during the city's primary election last month. He later beat out Republican candidate Robert Hincks during Tuesday's general election.

Members of the Waveland Fire Department played a key role in Wednesday's swearing in ceremony, posting the colors just minutes before watching their chief of 24 years step into the city's top job.

Senior Federal Court Judge Walter Gex, III administered the oath of office to Garcia. When the ceremony ended, Mayor Garcia said he was ready to hit the ground running.

"Tomorrow morning I'm going to be in meetings all day with the city's attorney's office being briefed on some issues with them."

Some of those issues will involve pending lawsuits against the city, many of which were filed against the police department for alleged abuse of the use of tasers.

"The police chief and I, again last night, talked. He's assured me he's going to work on the problems; he's going to take care of the problems. We're going to see a big turnaround in the police department."

It remains to be seen if Waveland officers will use tasers in the future.

"Maybe we need better training if we keep the tasers in the police department. At this time, I'm not obligating saying we're keeping tasers, and I'm not going to say we're taking the tasers out. We've got to evaluate the situation from there. Me, myself, and the board will be making a decision," Garcia said.

Newly elected Alderman Mark Kidd agreed that the decision will be carefully considered.

"If we're having problems with the police department or public works or so, we need to take a look at that, then break it down, if it's an individual and make sure the policies in each department are written down and that the employees can follow them," Kidd said.

The post-Katrina reconstruction work currently underway is another issue city leaders are making a top priority on their to do list.

"A lot of the roads are blocked off. Knocking on the doors, most of the people, that is their biggest concern right now is getting these projects done and completed," said Ward 3 Alderman Shane LaFontaine.

Mayor Garcia said he will implement a plan to tackle that., and he'll form a citizens committee to oversee contract work.

"I want a fresh set of eyes, not political eyes, the citizens to look at these contracts and they need to tell us if we're getting the best deal for our money."

That committee will also see to it that the work is finished when it's supposed to be.

Mayor Garcia also plans to create an inventory database system of every street in Waveland. He said instead of waiting until a street falls apart, he'd like to know where the problems are so city workers can be proactive in making infrastructure repairs.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.