Holloway tells inaugural audience of new challenges

Biloxi has overcome adversity many times over the years, Mayor A.J. Holloway said as he began an historic fourth term as Biloxi’s mayor, "but our challenge now is to show that we can also capitalize on success."

Holloway, who was re-elected without opposition in June, and the seven members of Biloxi’s City Council were sworn in during an afternoon ceremony today at the Saenger Theatre for the Performing Arts in downtown Biloxi. The official terms of office, according to state statute, begin the first Monday in July.

Holloway’s term is the first time in more than 70 years that Biloxians have seen a four-term, full-time mayor. John J. Kennedy began his first of four four-year terms in 1919, when Biloxi voters chose their first fulltime city officials — a mayor and two commissioners.

Also taking the oath of office during the 5:30 p.m. ceremony today were re-elected councilmembers George Lawrence of Ward 1, Charles T. Harrison Jr. of Ward 3, Mike Fitzpatrick of Ward 4, Tom Wall of Ward 5, and David Fayard of Ward 7. Newcomers sworn in were William "Bill" Stallworth of Ward 2, and Edward "Ed" Gemmill of Ward 6, a new ward carved from the fast-growing North Bay area.

Holloway, who was sworn in for the fourth time by Senior U.S. District Judge Dan M. Russell Jr., recalled his inaugural message in 1993.

"I spoke to that first inaugural audience about hope of greater things for our city." Holloway said. "I spoke of a city that stood at a crossroads. The gaming industry was in its infancy. We had only just begun the task of straightening out our city finances. Our streets and drainage were in a sad state. I spoke of a city that had a colorful past, but one that faced fearsome challenges. Today, I repeat what I said at that inaugural in 1993. The challenges may have been fearsome, but so are our strengths."

The message today, Holloway said, is that "we must continue to do the things that we’ve been doing: the right things – thoughtful planning, responsible management of our assets, and that we remain grounded by our history and guided by a desire to appreciate and retain those qualities that make Biloxi such a special place.

"As I’ve said on more than one occasion, I believe that future generations will look back upon this period as a time when Biloxi began its renaissance, when we made the right decisions. We not only cherished our history, but we made history."

Holloway and others noted that while Biloxi continues to see tremendous growth — particularly in condominium proposals — some longtime Biloxians may wonder when the "change" will subside.

"Make no mistake," Holloway said. "Change has been a part of Biloxi since that day 306 years ago when D’Iberville first set foot on our shores. Our challenge as elected officials today is to continue to ensure that we have the proper safeguards in place to protect the things that make Biloxi special."

The change Biloxi is experiencing, Holloway declared, "is best described as an evolution. We are evolving into a recognized destination, but we are also working to retain our small-town charm. We are indeed poised to meet this promising future, and together we are ready to embrace the challenges before us."

To read the text of Mayor Holloway’s inaugural address, click here.

To read a list of Biloxi’s fulltime mayor’s through the years, click here.