WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) -
Waveland voters head back to the polls Tuesday December 3 to choose the city's board of aldermen and next mayor. A field of 7 mayoral candidates has been narrowed to two.
Democrat Mike Smith is running against Republican Jay Trapani. Polls for this general election opened at 7 Monday morning.
The city's new mayor and board of aldermen will take office just one day after they are elected.
They will take their oaths of office during a swearing-in ceremony this Wednesday. The winner of the Mayor's seat will have some big shoes to fill.
One term Mayor David Garcia shocked Waveland residents when he announced over the summer he would not seek re-election.
The outgoing mayor used his final full day in the Mayor's chair to talk about the successes and failures of his administration.
As Waveland Mayor David Garcia prepares to leave the place he calls his second home he reflects on the past four years.
"Four years felt like eight to me, we hit the ground running," said Garcia.
One of his first acts as mayor stunned his police department.
When he took taser guns away from Waveland officers. The Mayor was served with more than 35 lawsuits from people who claimed they had been abused by the weapons.
Garcia said, "When I got served all of them lawsuits that made my mind up. Hey we're going to pull these tasers in today
and ordered the tasers to my office at that time. We put them in a safe and that's where they remain today."
The other issue that brought the media spotlight to Waveland dealt with a major financial crisis.
The mayor said less than a year on the job and he discovered the city was on the brink of bankruptcy, nearly a million dollars in the hole.
"Today I'm proud to say I leave office with about 3.2 million in liquid cash. That's approximately ten months of cash reserve for Waveland," explained Garcia.
The city's staff of 150 was cut down to only 23 people. Now Waveland has about 66 employees.
Garcia said, "I had many sleepless nights. It's not easy when you take a person's job and you send them home. I'm not proud of that, but we had to live within our means."
The city recently completed a streets resurface project where 45 streets saw some much needed improvements. That project cost just under a million dollars.
And a couple of weeks ago the city started a $6.3 million drainage project.
"That's touching every watershed in the City of Waveland," said Garcia.
His only regrets is that the police department and Municipal Pier were not completed during his tenure. But he said he leaves the city in better shape than it was when he took office.
The swearing-in ceremony will be held inside of the city hall board room on Coleman Avenue at 2 p.m. Wednesday.