GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Billy Hewes is Gulfport's new mayor. Hewes, a former state senator, officially took the oath of office Friday night in front of Gulfport City Hall and a crowd of about 200.
The 51-year-old Harrison Central and USM grad moved to Gulfport as a young child and has lived in the city ever since. While serving in the Mississippi State Senate, he also helped to run his family real estate and insurance business.
Hewes began his remarks Friday night by thanking his predecessor, George Schloegel for doing an extraordinary job the last four years. He also acknowledged and thanked his family, friends and city employees. His wife Paula and three of their four children were also there for the ceremony.
Hewes grew up in Orange Grove and spent a moment reflecting on his early years. "My early memories of Gulfport were as a child, summertime snowballs at Jones Park, going to the movies, just having a great time with family and friends," he said.
Hewes is now in charge of the state's second largest city.
Like any other mayor, he knows the challenges are many. But he also knows how special the city and the people who call it home truly are, and he spoke of that. "I believe one of my tasks will be to make sure we are a unified city," Hewes said. "We should acknowledge the uniqueness of each community and build on the strength of each, hopefully we are one Gulfport."
Hewes also told the audience that he will be the city's biggest cheerleader. He wants to build on Gulfport's assets and bring more jobs and economic opportunity to the place he calls home.
The night ended at Jones Park with a city-wide celebration that included 20 local restaurants and three bands. One of those bands included newly elected councilman, Myles Sharp. Another band featured the city's new mayor.
It was a fun start to what promises to be an interesting next four years in the city of Gulfport.