Ocean Springs Mayoral candidates square off

By Krystal Allan - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Incumbent mayor Connie Moran, Supervisor John McKay, and Scott Walker squared off for nearly an hour in front of a packed crowd Thursday night. The candidates took on a host of issues, including South Mississippi's most pressing need, affordable housing.

"We have to be smart about it and learn how to take some of the higher density, smaller cottages and mix them elsewhere in the community," Moran said.

"I think there are zoning areas where we can allow affordable housing. I think there are ways we can work with the different authorities to bring federal monies into Ocean Springs," McKay said.

"We can work with Gerald Blessey and the Reach program. You can have a $125,000 dollars home with a $50,000 dollar grant and $25,000 state grant and end up with a $50,000 home," Walker said.

Another issue the candidates tackled was lowering taxes. Walker said he would urge supervisors to re-adjust the mileage rate.  Moran said she'd work with the county for other tax relief and seek federal grants.

McKay pointed to the recent drop in gas prices as an inadvertent way to lower future taxes.  He said the budget was planned around higher gas prices, now with the drop in prices at the pump, money could be saved and put into escrow.

While the issues took center state, sparks did fly when Walker's inexperience was mentioned. He was called into question for putting signs out too early and campaigning at high school football games.

"The rules are 90 days before the election, not before. He [Scott Walker] still jumped again, even though he knew the rules, and put them out two weeks early. As for the footballs, it was very easy to ask his mother who was the school board president about the rules," McKay said.

"Lack of experience is when a President for the Board of Supervisors [John McKay] makes oinking noises at a colleague, or when he sets the mileage rate so high that property taxes go from 30 percent to 800 percent," Walker said.

Of all the points made, if there was one the candidates tried to stress most, it's that they're ready to lead.

"I am committed to this race.  This race means a lot to me," Walker said.

"My ambition is to be the best mayor the city can have," McKay said.

"It's in my blood.  It's what I want to do to make this community better," Moran said.

The Ocean Springs Record newspaper and Coast Young Professionals hosted the debate. People also heard from candidates running for alderman.  The general election is June 2nd.