Pass Residents React To Mayor's Resignation - - The News for South Mississippi

Pass Residents React To Mayor's Resignation

Pass Christian resident Gene Wagaer is one of the leaders of the rebuilding effort on Scenic Drive. He says a leader is what his town is waiting on, now that the ailing and often absent Mayor Billy McDonald is stepping down.  

"We need somebody that's young and dynamic," says Wagaer. "Somebody that needs to be there and attends the meetings and does what's right for the city."

Wagaer's friend and helper Gerald Isabelle says his only complaint is McDonald didn't quit sooner.  

"You know he took off after the storm and they couldn't find him," says Isabelle. "He said he was sick, so he had to be sick. He should have resigned then, instead of coming back and making so much commotion for everybody else."

That commotion included threats of cutting the mayors pay from aldermen, and complaints of a vacuum in leadership from residents.  

"I just think there shouldn't be an uproar," says Jerry McArthur. "We've got enough problems."

Mayor pro-tem Chipper McDermott says he's learned all about those problems.  

"Mr. McDonald was a very able leader when he was in office," says McDermott.  "He was in office 23 years. This is a very tough job. I've been setting here for two weeks and I'm going to tell you a 20-year-old Olympian would have a rough time in there. It's constant. Every minute somebody has a major problem that they want solved now."

Still, McDermott admits he wants the job full time.  

"I wouldn't say I was young, but I'm high energy."

McDermott says he'll be a candidate.

As for McDonald, the 70-year-old says his decision to step down was the best thing for his family, his health and his city. Gene Wagaer couldn't agree more.  

"It's probably better for the city and better of him too," says Wagaer.

Billy McDonald's resignation becomes official July first. A special election will be held 30 to 45 days after that. The Pass mayor's term will run until 2009.

by Don Culpepper

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