HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A Bay St. Louis businesswoman is now holding a new title. A seat on the Commission of Marine Resources was recently vacated when Commissioner Ernie Zimmerman passed away. Gov. Phil Bryant appointed Jolynne Trapani to fill the seat to represent nonprofit environmental organizations on the commission.
The oath of office was recited, and Jolynne Trapani took her seat as the newest commissioner on the CMR. Other than her appointment to the position by the governor, Trapani believes in her qualifications.
"I've lived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for over 30 years. I'm very passionate about it. I understand what the Mississippi Gulf Coast and its resources and what the DMR means to our entire state," said Trapani.
In addition to co-owning Trapani's Eatery, Trapani is also a founding member of the Bay Area Recovery Team credited with bringing the Bay St. Louis Harbor into existence.
"I've always been environmentally friendly. I've been an avid fisherman ever since I've lived here. I've also taught those same values to my children," said Trapani.
Some people aren't completely sold on the governor's choice. One of those opponents, Sharon Hayes, Director of Restore Mississippi Sound, said news of the appointment took her by surprise.
"I was disappointed, obviously, because we're in the business of trying to clean up the Mississippi Sound and improve water quality. She has no background in the science or background of improving water quality," said Hayes.
Department of Marine Resources Executive Director Jamie Miller stands firmly behind Trapani's record.
"We feel like the governor made a great choice in Jolynne. We think that she's got a track record of standing up and making tough votes in her community," said Miller.
For people like Hayes and Steve Shepard, with the local chapter of the Sierra Club, Trapani's experience isn't all that's concerning.
"I am really stunned that this process was kept so secret," said Shepard.
Shepard and Hayes both agree they wish the process of selecting Trapani had been more public, but they're both willing to give her a chance.
"We'll see how she does. If she's cooperative and finds out our issues and talks to us a bit and generally votes the way we want her to, there will be no problems," said Shepard.
Until then, they say they'll be watching her closely in the days to come.
Trapani's appointment will still need to be confirmed by the senate during the next session. If confirmed, she will finish out Zimmerman's term that lasts through June of 2018. After that, she will need to be reappointed by the governor to continue serving in the seat.