MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Moss Point leaders continue their search for the city's next top cop. But with a change in leadership possible in the coming months, some residents are urging them to put their focus elsewhere.
"I think it's a waste of our time and our energy and our resources to put into interviewing," said Moss Point resident Martha Watjus.
She's one of many residents who doesn't understand why the mayor and board of alderman are interviewing to fill the role of police chief right now.
"I think they only got like six applicants now," said Moss Point business owner Bubba Cunningham.
The newest chief will be the city's third in the past two years, and residents fear city leaders are rushing things.
"We need somebody that's going to give us continuity, that's going to be here consistently for us," said Watjus.
Alderman Chuck Redmond said the final interview is scheduled for next week, but the board may re-open the listing for additional applicants.
Alderman-at-large Wayne Lennep has been vocal about a desire to wait until the new administration is in place to make any decisions.
"Municipal elections are coming up very soon. Within six months, we should have a new mayor and new board, and I think they are the people who should be appointing," Watjus said.
Coming on the heels of the recent scandal with former police chief Art McClung and his eventual resignation and the investigation into funding misappropriation in the department, residents say Interim Chief Brandon Ashley has done a good job manning the role over the past few months.
"I think it's been smooth and quiet, which is what we like, so let's remain status quo right now. Let's not ruffle any feathers," Watjus said.
"He is thoroughly qualified, but I understand he didn't apply," Cunningham said.
Interim Chief Ashley told WLOX News Now his decision not to apply is because of the possible change in leadership ahead. He said he'd rather not risk losing his job if there is a change of administration. But he did say, given the opportunity, he'd apply following the election.
The candidates currently being considered are:
Stacey Deans of Ocean Springs
George Chaix of Biloxi
Louis "L.C." Fairley of McClain
Joe Sellers of Moss Point
Lamar Underwood of Moss Point
Christopher Canaski of the Kiln