Inaugural address: It’s all about Biloxi

Here is the prepared text of Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich’s inaugural address, which was presented to an audience of nearly 700 on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at the Biloxi Civic Center. (To see video, click here. To see photos, click here.)

Good evening. Thank you for sharing this special moment with me.

I’m honored by the great turnout tonight. I’m especially pleased to see our City Council here. Before the first election, there were rumors at least 4 of them didn’t support me. But I’m sure that wasn’t true!

It was an interesting campaign, to say the least. I consider myself blessed to stand before you now as Mayor of Biloxi. I am humbled and honored. I am determined to do my best for my hometown. As I’ve said many times, it’s all about Biloxi.

Biloxi has been great to me and my family. It gave us the opportunity to build careers and serve our community, and share some of Biloxi’s 300 years of cultural diversity.

I am a proud product of Biloxi, descended from a long line of hard working immigrants   who reached for, and lived the American Dream. I stand here today in honor of my parents, who taught me to have faith in my God, my City, and my Country.  They taught me how to succeed.

And it’s a lesson I plan to apply in the Mayor’s office.

Over the past 22 years, Biloxi enjoyed many successes during the A.J. Holloway Administration. He set a standard that I hope to emulate. Thank you, A.J.. And thank you, Macklyn.

My job is to continue your successes,  and find ways to improve on it. With the help of our City Council, and our capable staff, I plan to do just that.

First, we will establish a strong economic development initiative designed to bring good jobs, new opportunities and new residents to all of Biloxi.

I believe we must improve and complete the scenic Bayview Boulevard and expedite the Pine Street extension to U.S. 90. That corridor and casino loop will create more development.

In east Biloxi, we will aggressively pursue multi-family residential development, both upscale and affordable units. A large, family entertainment component is needed in East Biloxi to complement our museums and casino resorts.

Next, we must reopen Vieux Marche (Howard Avenue) to two-way traffic. A pedestrian district was tried; it didn’t work. We will draft off the new stadium to spur development throughout Downtown Biloxi.

Creative incentives must be considered to attract multi-purpose development in downtown… It could begin with the old federal building. That property could become a high-rise with parking and retail on the bottom, and upscale residences above.

Keesler commands our attention as well. We have to do our part to protect its mission and make it BRAC-proof.  The talked about Division Street entrance is critical for Keesler to meet the post 911 security requirements of the Air Force. Biloxi and MDOT could make that happen — fly right off of I-110.

We will embrace 21st Century tools and technology. I can tell you it is important to our future… We can become a gigabyte city. Who wouldn’t want to connect to the rest world, 200 times faster? This will greatly enhance our efforts attract new businesses in all sectors (entertainment, life safety, education, medical, manufacturing, obviously communications software development/support services and other high-tech areas that will come)…

In west Biloxi, we need to transform our empty big box buildings into attractive, multi-use centers, for everything from vertical farming for produce and plant markets.. to high-tech centers for businesses serving customers across the country.

We have to replace the Popp’s Ferry Bridge. This will be a costly, time-consuming project. We must find a way to make it happen.

Woolmarket is also vital to our future. It is our growth path.  We need to honor our commitments to Woolmarket.  We will create the I-10 Woolmarket Gateway.

Across the city, we need to re-emphasize beautification.  We are blessed with abundant natural beauty. We must protect it and enhance it.

I plan to work with developers and preservationists to increase opportunity, while maintaining our natural charm. We will to encourage development in key areas, and establish appropriate mitigation policies for tree preservation.

I’ve already started a complete review of all city operations and policies to ensure that we are being as effective as possible, and that we are making best use of our tax dollars.

And I plan to work closely with the City Council to address the vital issues before us in a timely way.

As my family and friends will tell you, I love to talk. Sometimes too much, always too fast!!  I believe in two-way communication and I want the Council to know that I believe we have a partnership.

My plans require a team effort. We have the City Council and the quality of employees to ensure success.

All I need, and all I ask, is the public’s support.

Remember, “We are Biloxi!”

Thank you!

God bless all of you and God bless Biloxi.