Frank Reed is a businessman. Billie Skellie has a background in government. One of these men will be the next Long Beach mayor.
"I don't think I'm going to get to sleep much," Reed said, referring to the campaiging he had to do from now through election day. Billie Skellie had plans to stay up just as long. "Exactly right," he laughed.
The unveiling of a historic marker at USM Gulf Coast brought the two mayoral candidates together. It was their first chance to shmooze with voters since the mayoral candidates qualified for next week's runoff.
Skellie finished 14 points in front of Reed in the first election. But his 44% total was six points short of avoiding the runoff. "The other percentage we'll try to make up from the folks that might have voted for another candidate, and hope that they'll accept me," Skellie said.
Reed had a Wednesday night strategy meeting scheduled to decide what his focus should be during the runoff. "You know, I walked the streets before," he said. It may not be the best economical way to do it now."
There's one interesting similarity between Skellie and Reed. Both candidates had fathers who ran the city. Reed's father was a three term Long Beach mayor. Skellie's dad had an office at city hall starting in 1969. "He was mayor when Camille hit the coast," Skellie said. He remembered it being a "very tough term."
Reed entered the race despite a promise he made a few years ago. "I told my mom I wasn't going to get into it," he said. "But she isn't here."
So Reed's in the runoff. And so is Skellie. One of them will be elected mayor in less than a week.
Skellie is 58 years old. The Bell South retiree is currently a Long Beach alderman. Reed is 59 years old. Right now, the comptroller is on leave from the Harrison County Tax Collector's office so he can run for Long Beach mayor.