Bay St. Louis mayoral race heats up

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - In just a few days, Bay St. Louis residents will go to the polls to select a mayor. On the ballot, incumbent Les Fillingame will face businessman Jeff Harding.

Republican Jeff Harding says he's running to make a difference.

"When I go to city council meetings and look at budgets and see things that look unrealistic, I think there is going to have to be change real soon," said Harding.

The change he wants is getting the city's financial house in order.

"I recently visited four sister cities. For instance, the city of Pass Christian has $2.5 million in reserves, the city of Long Beach has $2 million in reserves and even Waveland, who had all of that financial trouble, now has accrued $2.4 million in a reserve fund. The city of Bay St. Louis has $252,000 in a reserve account. Which isn't even enough to make payroll for a pay period and a half," explained Harding.

Incumbent Les Fillingame knows there's not a lot of extra cash, but he's says he's proud of what the city has done in a short amount of time.

"We've been very successful in bringing the city back out of recovery and through revitalization to the point that I think that every part of the city now, verses four years ago, the quality of life is better. The opportunity to work and do business is better. And we can see where we have the opportunity as a city to bring the city well beyond that in the next four years," said Fillingame.

On his priority list now: upgrades in wards 5 and 6. The annexed area of the city, things like dredging canals, and improving roads and drainage.

"The biggest goal for us as a city would be to bring the newer area of the city up to the same standard that we hold in the other parts of the city. By that I mean all of the infrastructure requirements," explained Fillingame.

Both candidates say there's a need to bring new business to the city. Each has just a few days to convince voters they're the one to do it.

In all coast cities, residents have until Saturday to cast absentee ballots.

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