Pass Christian Questions Mayoral Leadership

Pass Christian remains a city with serious concerns about a lack of leadership from its mayor.

The board of aldermen met Monday evening to consider cutting Mayor Billy McDonald's pay in half. Members decided to table their vote after the Mayor requested two weeks of unpaid leave for medical reasons. But this debate is far from over.

There are some strong opinions among folks who live in the Pass. And the overwhelming sentiment is: "We need a leader."

Hurricane Katrina slammed Pass Christian with unexpected fury. But while residents got about the business of response, then recovery, many point to an inexcusable lack of leadership at the temporary City Hall headquarters.

Where is Mayor Billy McDonald?

"I hate to throw stones at people, but he's not doing his job. We need somebody to do the job. We need a cheerleader over here as much as we need a diplomat right now. We need somebody slapping the firemen on the back, policemen on the back, the volunteers on the back, saying you're doing a good job. We appreciate you being there. And he doesn't seem to have that in him right now," said resident Buddy Clark.

Many residents share that sentiment. And it's more than just civic pride at stake. Pass Christian was among the cities hardest hit by the hurricane and most in need of stronger than ever leadership.

Maureen Rayborn says that leadership is absent.

"I think that he should resign.  Because he doesn't seem to be able to provide the leadership that the town is looking for and needs just now," she explained.

That call for the mayor's resignation was a lead editorial in the Sunday paper. And it's not a new concern.

Concerns about the mayor began surfacing shortly after the storm: Allegations about his absence and an ongoing lack of leadership. Late last year, the board of aldermen voted to cut Mayor McDonald's pay by ten percent, but then failed to override his veto of the measure.

As the town continues its recovery and rebuilding, those troubles with the mayor persist.

"The mayor's got a problem. I ain't going to tell you what the problem is, but I know what the problem is and the mayor's got a big problem. He should have resigned the day after the hurricane," said Pass resident, Michael Malley.

Mayor Billy McDonald has said he suffers from health problems, including high blood pressure.