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Mayoral candidates highlight differences
By Dwayne Bremer
Apr 30, 2013, 19:10

Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame and Diamondhead Mayor Chuck Ingraham will square off against challengers within their own party next Tuesday, when voters will decide who moves on to the June 4. general election.
In Pass Christian, the mayor's race will be decided on June 4, when incumbent Leo "Chipper" McDermott (R) will face off challenger Joseph Piernas (D).
Neither McDermott nor Piernas will have a challenger in Tuesday's primary.
Absentee voting is also under way and will continue until this Saturday May 4, at noon.
Mississippi elections are conducted on the party-primary system.
Winners of the respective primaries will face the other party's candidates and Independent candidates in the general election.
Independents do not have to go through the first round of elections and are automatically listed on the general election ticket.
Voters can vote in either the Republican or Democratic primaries, but not both.
In Mississippi voters do not have to register with a party, therefore they can vote in any primary they wish.
If there is a runoff, voters who voted in the primary for one party, cannot vote in the opposing party's runoff.
Here is a look at the mayoral candidates in Bay St. Louis and Diamondhead. On Friday, we will spotlight candidates for city council and aldermen in the three cities.

Bay St. Louis

Les Fillingame, 58, Democrat.
Occupation: Bay St. Louis mayor 2009-present.

Professional experience: Retail management, small business owner, insurance/investment agent, municipal government official. Mayor of Bay St. Louis since 2009.

Civic experience: Youth soccer and baseball coach, Bay St. Louis Planning and Zoning commissioner, state soccer Olympic development administrator, Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service board member.

"I feel Bay St. Louis is a better place to live, work, play, raise a family, and start a business than it was four years ago. We, as a city, working together, have literally accomplished everything we set out to do. Expectations are just as high going forward."

Mike Weems, 43, Democrat.

Occupation: Teacher, coach, small business owner, licensed commercial fisherman

Professional experience: Teacher, coach, administrator, with 15 years of experience.
Owner, Coach Mike's Family Seafood Restaurant: Education Bachelor's Degree, Environmental Biology; Master's Degree, Biology and Secondary Education; Specialist Degree, Leadership and Administration

Civic experience: Youth coach, member of Calvary Chapel, Bay St. Louis; former Member, Hancock County Chamber of Commerce Education Committee; Coach of the Year 2005, Bay-Waveland Middle School, District 8 4A Coach of the Year.

"I am concerned about the direction of our city. Special interests rule City Hall and new businesses are discouraged. Conditions are bad in Wards 3, 5 and 6. The new municipal marina will ignore local people. I will serve every ward and give Bay St. Louis back to ALL the taxpayers."

Jeff Harding, 49, Independent

Occupation: Owner of Gulf Coast Pools

Professional experience: Owner of Gulf Coast Pools; licensed commercial general contractor, master plumber, master electrician; and firefighter/EMA for 13 years

Civic: Southern Anglers fishing club; Hancock County CCA; state delegate for state Republican party, volunteer disc jockey at WQRZ.

"I have been a small business owner for 30 years. Please allow me to use this experience and be your 'all street mayor.' I will work with our community development director to bring new business and streamline the building department, making it efficient, user-friendly and fair to all. Public safety will be a priority and all wards will receive equal services. With your help we can do it."


Chuck Ingraham, 69, Republican

Occupation: Diamondhead Mayor

Professional experience: U.S. Marine Corps (30 years); logistical leading large organizations; director of Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society at Gulfport Seabee base; helped city of Diamondhead; received 54 of 60 credits towards MML certified municipal official designation; bachelor of science in industrial management, LSU, and MA in administration from Chapman University.

Civic experience: Host and organizer for Diamondhead Memorial Day services (12 years); Diamondhead continuing education treasurer, South Ms. United Way board of directors; member of VFW Post 2880; member of Hancock County Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce; Diamondhead Boaters association, and incorporation organization and planning sub committee chairman.

"I am the only candidate for mayor with actual experience setting the course for growth of the city from incorporation with zero funds to a nearly functioning city. We have budgeted for necessities, and executed within it. A recent audit confirms that. The mayor and council hired an extremely qualified city manager who has hired exceptional workers. Diamondhead is steadily progressing to a fully functioning city, which will serve all of the residents."

Tommy Schafer, 46, Republican

Occupation: Manufac-turers' representative, sales and commercial construction

Professional experience: Founded Schafer Equipment and Construction, LLC; established surety bond line and completed all projects on time and within budget; passed the following professional exams: Mississippi Business & Law - Commercial Contractors License Exam; series 7 general securities license and series 66  investment advisor; uniform combined state law examination; served on various dealer councils reviewing economic development proposals

Civic experience: Director of Diamondhead Property Owner's association; former vice president and currently president-elect  Rotary Club Central Hancock; chairman Diamondhead/Hancock Ducks Unlimited, raising more than $90,000 for conservation efforts; Member of the National Rifle Association and Coastal Conservation Association - CCA

"As Mayor, I will focus my efforts on cooperating with county, state, and federal agencies, leveraging our tax dollars to best benefit Diamondhead.  With financial, budget, and development experience, I will stop the huge tax increases we have seen on our homes, businesses and vehicles.  I will focus on needs rather than wants and will eliminate duplications with the POA."

Carl Necaise, 60, Republican

Occupation: Manager, RLCB at Stennis Space Center

Professional experience: Manager at Sanderson Farms (28 years); city councilman in Terry, Ms., during '90s.

Civic experience: Lions Club; assists with Humane Society; member of
Grace Baptist Church, community volunteer.

"There are two things missing in this campaign, communication and common sense. With my experience, I will help the people of Diamondhead cut costs and diversify the budget so that the people know where their money is going. It's not going to happen overnight, but we have to walk before we try to run."

John Fletcher, 76, Independent

Occupation: Owner of Tralphe Rentals Inc.

Professional experience: 10 years active and reserve service (U.S. Army and Texas Air National Guard); vice-president of operations at Hutchinson Mfg. Inc, Owner and CEO of Drillers Electric of Harvey, Inc (oil field industry); CEO of Harvey Planes LLC.

Civic experience: Member of the Aircraft Owner and Pilots Association; U.S. Experimental Aircraft Association; Civil Air Patrol, ISGA; the Diamondhead Men's Golf Association; president of Concerned Citizens of Diamondhead, and member of the Most Holy Trinity Parish Catholic Church.

"I want to make the city of Diamondhead the best that it can be. My goals are to reduce the burdens of excessive spending, high taxes, and regulations on our citizens."


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