Holloway’s inaugural message: The journey begins anew

A.J. Holloway, the only person ever elected to five four-year terms as Biloxi’s mayor, told an inaugural audience this afternoon that he wants to see Biloxi re-claim its rightful place as a leader in tourism, historic preservation, and “a leader, period.”

The mayor, who was first inaugurated in 1993, was sworn in along with a City Council that included two new members, Lucy Denton of Ward 3 and retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Clark Griffith of Ward 4.

Others taking the oath of office during the ceremony in the auditorium at Biloxi Junior High School were council members George Lawrence of Ward 1, William “Bill” Stallworth of Ward 2, Tom Wall of Ward 5, Edward “Ed” Gemmill of Ward 6 and David Fayard of Ward 7.

An audience of about 850 turned out for the afternoon affair, which included musical selections and a reception afterward.

The historical significance of the event and of the city itself was not lost on Holloway.

In his inaugural address, Holloway recalled the trying times during Biloxi’s 300-year past and how the city was able to overcome each challenge, and he reminisced about the city’s previous inauguration ceremony, in 2005, weeks before Hurricane Katrina struck.

The mayor also drew from his first inaugural address, in 1993, when the city’s dockside gaming industry was in its infancy and Biloxi was emerging from scandal and financial woes.

“We talked of rebuilding our finances. We talked of restoring integrity to City Hall and to your city government in general,” Holloway said. “We talked of the promise of the new casino industry. We’ve come a long way in the past 16 years, and yet today we’re still talking about some of the same things -– rebuilding, restoring and great promise.

“As I’ve said time and again since Katrina, I could not be more proud of the way that the people of Biloxi have dealt with this storm, the way you persevered, with such dignity, such determination, such grace and such hard work.”

And now, the mayor said, it’s time for Biloxi “to re-claim its rightful place as a leader – “a leader in tourism, a leader in preservation of history and culture, a leader in quality of life, A leader period.”

Added the mayor: “There’s an old saying, ‘The journey is the reward,’ and today, we begin that journey anew.”

Holloway pointed out that residents would be seeing construction begin on many city-owned city properties, as well as a new downtown library and cultural center, visitors center, and a museum district in east Biloxi.

“Just as we were before the storm and in the weeks and months since that fateful day, we will be guided by our past — and the things that were right about Biloxi.

“As I said to you back in 1993, ‘I have no doubt that the long-term success of our new opportunities is dependent on our ability to preserve the wonderful heritage of our past. It is time to put Biloxi first, for the Biloxi of the future must remain as diverse and as unique as the Biloxi we have always known. Only then will Biloxi be first in the minds of potential visitors to our city as well as to our citizens for many years to come.’”

More online

— To see the complete text of Mayor A.J. Holloway’s inaugural address, click here.

— To see photos from the inauguration, click here.

— To see a copy of the inaugural program, click here.