Gov. Tate Reeves visited Bay St. Louis Thursday morning to publicly welcome Mayor Mike Favre and Ward 1 Councilman Doug Seal to the Republican party.
“In recent years, thanks to the leadership of the gentlemen standing here beside me,” Reeves said, indicating Favre and Seal, “Bay St. Louis has become a hotbed of activity. The leadership of these gentlemen has been outstanding, along with their colleagues in the city and the county.”
Reeves’ comments came at a news conference atop the Bay St. Louis seawall, behind The Blind Tiger restaurant and overlooking the city’s municipal harbor. The event was hosted by The Blind Tiger owner Thomas Genin, who also provided food for the attendees after the event.
“Bay St. Louis is such a unique part of our great state,” Reeves said. “Bay St. Louis is known as ‘A Place Apart,’ and that’s exactly what it is,” listing “the growing harbor here behind us,” as well as the Bay’s friendly citizens and the town’s beauty, accessibility and history.
“This is a wonderful city and I’m extremely grateful to be your governor,” he said.
Reeves also gave a shout-out to Waveland Mayor Mike Smith, who changed parties last year, and Diamondhead Mayor Nancy Depreo.
Reeves lauded local leaders’ commitment to “conservative values,” which he said Favre and Seal on Thursday made official by joining the Republican Party.
“I hear from people not only from around this area, but people who come from all around the country — people love Bay St. Louis,” Reeves said.
Favre thanked the governor and everyone at the ceremony Thursday, and said that although his party affiliation had changed, he had not.
“We’ve not changed as a person,” Favre said. “We’re still running on the same values we ran on four years ago, eight years ago.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of Bay St. Louis and have worked to improve our city and the accountability of our local government.The principles that have guided my decisions and plans are conservative principles. I’m glad to join the MSGOP and look forward to helping Bay St. Louis continue to grow and thrive.”
Seal said that although he had always previously registered as an Independent for his position, he had finally “realized I need to be part of a bigger group, a bigger organization to make a bigger difference in our city.
“We have drastically improved our fiscal accountability and have followed conservative principles to reinvest revenue into core government functions like public safety, resulting in more competitive salaries for first responders and the coming construction of a state-of-the public safety facility. I look forward to working with the MSGOP to continue positioning Ward 1 and the entire city for growth.”
“Local public offices are the foundation of government, and policies at the local level often have a more significant effect on people’s everyday lives than those put in place by state or federal governments,” Reeves said. “Mayor Favre and Councilman Seal have worked consistently on behalf of the people of Bay St. Louis to build a government that is more accountable and that produces better results for the people it serves. I’m very pleased to welcome them to the Republican Party.”
Other speakers at Thursday’s event include Mississippi GOP Chairman Frank Bordeaux, Hancock County Republican Women’s Club President Starr Chapman and Hancock County Republican Chairman Jason Chiniche.
After the ceremony In Bay St. Louis on Thursday, Reeves traveled to the Harrison County Courthouse in Gulfport to announce that he was appointing District Attorney Joel Smith, Jr., to serve as a Mississippi Court of Appeals judge.
Smith will be sworn in at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19 at the Gartin Justice Building in Jackson.Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph will administer the oath of office.
Smith, 46, has served for the past nine years as district attorney for the Second Judicial District of Harrison, Hancock and Stone counties.
Long-time Assistant District Attorney Crosby Parker was appointed to fill the remainder of Smith’s unexpired term, Reeves said.
Smith will take the position previously held by Sean Tindell of Gulfport, who left the Court to become Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety on June 1, 2020.
“It is very humbling and an honor to join such an esteemed group of judges on the Mississippi Court of Appeals,” Smith said in a press release Thursday. “I look forward to this new chapter in my legal career and I’m excited about this new challenge. I will be ready to hit the ground running and put my experience and energy to work and hopefully make the people of our great state proud.”
Smith served for 11 years as an assistant district attorney before taking office as district attorney in January 2012. Before joining the District Attorney's office, he practiced corporate defense and premises liability litigation with the firm of Bryant, Clark, Dukes & Blakeslee.
“I have complete confidence in Crosby’s ability not just to do the job but to raise the bar at the DA’s office even higher than it has ever been,” Smith said in a separate statement Thursday. “He has proven that he is a strong leader and litigator. He has been a fantastic partner for me and I have no doubt he will be an excellent DA for our community.”
“I’m honored to be appointed by Governor Reeves to be the District Attorney for Harrison, Hancock and Stone counties,” Parker said in a statement released Thursday. “I want to thank Joel Smith for his leadership over the past decade in building strong relationships with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners. As district attorney, I promise to work tirelessly to ensure justice is upheld and protected for the citizens of our district and the District Attorney’s Office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute those who commit felony crimes in order to protect our communities and ensures that the rights of all are safeguarded.”
Prior to his appointment, Parker served as chief assistant district attorney, where he has handled high profile violent crimes, crimes against children, and corruption cases, among others. In addition, as chief ADA he supervised the office personnel and all aspects of the district’s criminal prosecutions. Before coming to the District Attorney's Office, Parker served in the United States Air Force as a Judge Advocate General and is currently a lieutenant colonel in the Mississippi Air National Guard as the Staff Judge Advocate for the 172d Airlift Wing in Jackson, MS.
Favre and Seal are both up for reelection this year.
The qualifying period for all Bay St. Louis municipal candidates is Feb. 5. The primary elections are scheduled for April 6, with any necessary runoffs to be held on April 27.
The general election is scheduled June 8.
The city of Diamondhead is also hosting municipal elections this year, and follows the same qualifying, primary, runoff and general election dates.