Gautier Citizens Say City Needs To Clean Up Its Act

"I think it is ludicrous, I think it is so inhumane what you did to her, and nobody in this city is going to forget," Gautier citizen Barbara Mello says as she speaks out in Friday's meeting.

Some Gautier citizens say Tuesday night's firing of city clerk Pearl Mercer was the straw that broke the camel's back.

"You want to fire a lady because she's truthful and honest, yet you continue conspiracies? You shouldn't ask her to come back, you should beg her to come back," one concerned citizen says as applause erupts throughout the room.

During executive session Friday, the council voted for Christy Wheeler, the city manager,  to ask Mercer to come back to work for the city clerk's office in some capacity for a 90 day period.

Council woman Ginger Lay nominated Linda Green to take Mercer's position as city clerk. Homemade signs showed the public's opinion of the temporary appointment.

Mickey Spanier says she appreciates the council's attempt to listen to the citizens, but says it's not enough.

"I feel the only way to solve this problem is for the city manager to resign, and she can take her four henchman with her," Spanier says.

"It was a lot of public comment against our city manager, but I wouldn't care to comment on her or her presence without her here to defend herself," Gautier Mayor Pete Pope says.

Mayor Pope says even with the criticism spoken today, he sees a promising future for the city.

"We've been open, and we've had a lot of problems, but we've brought them out and tried to correct them, such as the audit, such as the generator matter. We try to meet things head on and do what's best for my city," Pope says.

But a councilman's agenda can be hard to carry out. The Gautier City Council often faces narrow votes. Four to three decisions are frequent, which some citizens say shows a lack of unity.

"I ask that the council just come together as one. And if you're not going to come together as one, you need to leave and let someone else take your position," Carolyn Hankton says to the council.

Despite the internal struggles Gautier continues to face, citizens say they're not giving up on their hometown.

"The citizens of Gautier are now making a stand. We're going to make sure they run this city morally, ethically, and professionally. It's been a laughing stock way too long," Connie Sheppard says.

Christy Wheeler left the meeting early due to prior travel engagements and was not available for comment.

Linda Green will serve a 90-day term as the interim city clerk. Negotiations have not yet been made between Pearl Mercer and Wheeler, so it's unsure if she will accept the invitation back to the city or not.