After catching myself up on last year’s Bay St Louis election forum I was reminded of the differences between the two communities in terms of the political environment. Waveland’s political scene is far more laid back with the various aldermen candidates agreeing with each other more than a few times. Even better from my standpoint on the panel was that every candidate that appeared for the forum last night was prepared and knowledgeable of the issues in the community, something that was not true last year in the Bay.
Geoff Belcher of the Sea Coast Echo and WLOX’s Doug Walker rounded out the panel and again we didn’t toss out any softies. Doug kicked off the Mayoral portion asking about the heart of Waveland being left out of the newly created opportunity zones. To the extent Waveland is still redeveloping from Hurricane Katrina I focused questions to both the Mayors and Aldermen about their visions for development on the Highway 90 corridor, including a tie vote Mayor Smith broke allowing live oaks to be cut. There was no such thing as a right or wrong answer to these questions. My goal, as it was last year, was to get the candidates to differentiate themselves on the issues and I think the panel accomplished that.
Here are the candidates that attended last night:
Ward 1 Alderman: Henry Tebbe (R), Jeremy Burke (I)
Ward 2 Alderman: Laronne Lewis (D)
Ward 3 Alderman: Shane Lafontaine (D)
Ward 4 Alderman: Charles Piazza (I), Sara Cure Clark (I)
Mayor: Mike Smith (D), Tommy Longo (I), Jay Trapani (I)
Ward 1 Candidate Jay Fountain, Ward 2 Alderman Bobby Richardson, Ward 3 Candidate Don Siebenkittel, Ward 4 Candidate Brice Phillips, Ward 4 Candidate Mark Kidd
Ward 2 Candidate Laronne Lewis had several quotable one liners including his remark about the mail men and garbage men knowing everything that was happening in town (Lewis is a public works employee at the City). Before the forum I quizzed Lewis if he had experienced any workplace retaliation over running for office and the fact he thought that was a strange question was refreshing to me. The rest of Mississippi is not quite as gentille as the City of Waveland when it comes to political expression. Win or lose the City has a keeper in Mr. Lewis.
The most competitive local election ward in the Country is in Waveland’s Ward 4, currently represented by Charles Piazza who is finishing his third, nonconsecutive term as an Alderman. Piazza is matched up with former Ward 4 Alderman/Current Bay Waveland School Board Trustee Mark Kidd and Sara Cure Clark. Besides that race carrying other political implications it also presents a contrast between generations in the millennial Clark and baby boomer Piazza. As for the other political implications, should Kidd win, Bay Mayor Mike Favre would pick the replacement to serve out the rest of Kidd’s term on the School Board. One name already being floated about in that scenario is Ward 2 Candidate Lewis should he lose.
This much is clear, there is no such thing as a wasted vote in Waveland’s Ward 4.
As I put a very busy month of October in the books, I imagine we’ll have more on the upcoming December 4, 2018 Waveland City elections.