Petitioners Pleading For Change In Gautier Government - - The News for South Mississippi

Petitioners Pleading For Change In Gautier Government

"Are you registered to vote in Gautier? Would you like to sign our petition? It's a petition to see whether or not you'd like to change our form of government," Mickey Spanier says.

Barbara Mello and Mickey Spanier are two citizens with a mission.   

"To have an opportunity to either a. keep our existing government, which is a council-manager, or b. change it to mayor-council, so we would have a representative," Mello says.   

They're giving Gautier citizens a chance to make their voices heard, something Spanier says hasn't happened under the current form of government.   

"There are so many problems in Gautier. We have a problem with our road system. We have a problem with our lighting. We have a problem with crime," Spanier says.   

Spanier says she frequently takes her concerns to her councilman, but she says the response is minimal.   

"Then you have to go to Christy Wheeler. Forget that, forget that, you're not going to talk to her either. She doesn't feel she has to talk to us about anything," Spanier says. 

At city hall, the average term for a Gautier city manager is relatively short-about 2.7 years. Wheeler has served about 18 months. But some citizens say it's time for a change.   

"The only thing that can be done is to change the government. There are no checks and balances. She gets all the checks and she doesn't have to report the balance," Mello says.

Right now, residents must report problems to the city manager, not the mayor. Gautier Mayor Pete Pope says he's heard of many city residents that would like to see this change become a reality.   

"A lot of people feel like going back to the mayor-council form of government, that it would be easier to talk to a man they elected, that they voted for, rather than someone that was appointed," Pope says.   

However, Mayor Pope says even if voters choose to make the switch, the transition could take years, but Spanier says she's not giving up.   

"However long it takes to get the job done, we're here for it. Until the end, that's it," Spanier says.

The petitioners are expecting to find out the exact number of signatures they need in just a few days and will then submit their petition to the council.

City Manager Christy Wheeler could not be reached for comment.

By Keli Rabon

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