DIAMONDHEAD, Miss. (WLOX) - The special election for Diamondhead’s new mayor happens on Tuesday. The seat has been vacant since the passing of Tommy Schafer back in July.
Two candidates are on the ticket: City Councilwoman Nancy Depreo and businessman Richard Willis. Depreo has been on staff with the city, in one capacity or another, since incorporation.
“I’m vested in Diamondhead. I’m currently serving as your Mayor Pro Tem. I have been on the city council for five years. I also worked with the engineering firm that was the city engineer since the beginning of the incorporation until around 2015. I also served as the general manager for the water/sewer district for three years building the treatment plant," Depreo said.
In addition to years of experience, Depreo is currently working on a number of projects within the city.
“The city is moving forward with many projects. We have a lot going on. We’re excited to announce that we received over $1,000,000 from our legislature to continue our road from Park Ten Lane over to Leisure Time Drive. We also are working on the bamboo kayak launch with a walking trail, excited to add this addition to our current kayak launch. We are also working on our master town center bringing new businesses to Diamondhead," she said.
On the other side of the ticket is Richard Willis. A large area of focus, Willis said, should be to build the relationship with a key organization in Diamondhead.
“Dealing with POAs and HOAs is something that I’ve been doing for years. I feel like I can bridge the gap between the city and the POA. I’ve already talked to Greg the new manager here. The POA is extremely important to our city staying the great place it is for people to live," Willis said.
Once the POA is set up for success, Willis said, the rest falls into place.
“The POAs and the HOAs are everywhere around this country, and they work out their solutions. Everybody I’ve ever dealt with, all the mayors I’ve dealt with worked out their problems and solutions, and I think I could be that person for Diamondhead and its residents," he said.
In addition to continuing her tenure with the city, Depreo is hoping to make history.
“Hancock County was founded in 1812. We’ve only ever had one female elected as mayor in our county. This will mark history to have the second female, and the first Republican female elected in our county and the first female elected to the city of Diamondhead. This is a historical movement for women all over our state," Depreo said.
There has been a deviation from what the city used to be, Willis said. His goal is to bring Diamondhead back to what it once was.
“This whole city needs to unite and become one. That’s the way it used to be when my son was being raised here. I want this place to be the kind of city that people come back to after they go to college. I want this place to be the kind of city that when people visit, they want to come live here, too," Willis said. “I love and care about this community, and have for years and years and years. I have passion like nobody. I believe passion is fundamental for mayors everywhere. I learned that from being on the road working with several different mayors during my career. Their passion was incredible, just like mine," he said.
Tuesday’s special election will fill the current term for mayor. The office is up for grabs again next year and will be decided by a regular election next summer.