Gulfport Mayor Aware of Talk on Change of Government
By Keith Burton - GCN
Some business leaders and citizens in Gulfport are becoming unhappy over the progress the city is making toward recovery and new business development. The focus of the concern has been the city's Mayor Brent Warr and the City Council, which were elected to office just last July.
While everyone is concerned about the post-Katrina cleanup and restoration, the issues center more on economic development, or the lack of it in the city. In quiet conversations, a growing feeling among many is that the mayor doesn't have enough experience and council is not well informed enough for the challenges the city now faces. There are concerns that Warr and the council are operating as if Gulfport is a village instead of the state's second largest city.
Specific concerns are that Warr has basically taken full control over economic development issues. The city's longtime Economic Development Director George Carbo recently took a sabbatical from his job with the city over his concerns about how the city was moving. The mayor has also not appointed members to the city's Zoning Board of Adjustments and Appeals, needed to hear zoning changes and development issues, and he is personally involved with development permits for major projects.
What is being discussed quietly is that a petition to change the form of government in Gulfport may be needed. This petition would change the government from a strong Mayor, weak Council form, to a City Manager form of government.
GCN spoke with Warr about these quiet talks around town Monday after Warr's press conference announcing his opposition to the elevated Canal Road Connector planned by MDOT. Warr clearly knew about the talk around town.
"I hear about these concerns everyday." Warr said. "Certainly we all have concerns about how things are going since the storm and I haven't done everything perfectly. But I don't think we need to change form of government. We just need to do a better job on the things we are doing on a daily basis.
"I'm trying everyday."
GCN Radio - Audio File: Warr Responds to quiet talk of changing city's form of government