GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Former Hancock Bank CEO George Schloegel announced Tuesday night that he will seek Gulfport's top office this summer, a job he's wanted since he was a kid.
Schloegel said "recent events" helped him decide to run for mayor. He was referring to current Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr's decision, just announced Tuesday, to not run for re-election.
"I want to say to the group that's in this room. I'm going to ask you two things. Number one, I'm asking you if you will vote for me for Mayor of Gulfport. That's the first question. But the more important question, and I'm serious as I can be, I'm asking you if you will commit four years of hard, hard work with the Mayor and the City Council of Gulfport, Mississippi to make our city the best that it possibly can be? I want to know, will you give us those four years?"
Schloegel said he has dreamed of serving as mayor since he was 12-years-old. He promised himself that he would run for mayor as soon as he was old enough. Schloegel said he almost kept that promise in 1972, and was ready to inform Hancock Bank officials of his plans, until someone told him something important.
"A wise man told me, did I consider that I had three children. And he said, 'George, on a mayor's salary, how are you going to educate those children? How are you going to have all three in college at the same time?'"
Schloegel said his children are now grown and they have children of their own, and he's ready to finally run for mayor.
"The big thing I want you to do is help us start a word of mouth campaign. Word of mouth to your next door neighbors, to your family, to your friends, to ask them to join our campaign and let's get elected. But also ask them what I ask you, ask them if they'll commit the very best for the next four years so we can make our town everything that it possibly can be."
Schloegel is positive about the future and said the bad economy isn't going to last forever.
"We've been through those before. We're going to be seeing a lot of stimulus money coming into this area. We need to get some of that stimulus money and do the right things that need to be done in each one of the wards and precincts of this community. And I can tell you that I will work hand in glove with whoever you elect to the city council to give harmony and leadership to a solid city that is united by the people that are signing up saying they are committed to four years of hard work to make our town do what it needs to do."
Schloegel said his administration would focus on beautification, fighting litter, and adding more plants and flowers to Gulfport.
"I see Gulfport as the Garden City of the Gulf South. It needs to be the most beautiful place that we can possibly make it. We need to fight litter. Litter on the road is a deterrent to economy development. Pretty flowers, good trees, manicured lawns, those kind of things, not just on city property, but on our personal property. That speaks to what our town wants to be."
He also talked about fighting crime, education, rebuilding the city's beachfront and municipal buildings, and developing the old VA property that was given to the city after Hurricane Katrina.
Before ending his news conference, George Schloegel promised he'll run a quick, clean and positive campaign.