Inauguration address: The best is yet to come

Here is Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich’s draft of his inaugural address, which he used from the podium during the ceremony on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 at the Biloxi Civic Center. See the inauguration video.

Good afternoon everyone. Thank you for being with us this day.  This is a very special moment for me.  I consider myself blessed once again to be the Mayor of my hometown.

I am honored and humbled, to lead this great City along with this City Council who also has just taken their oath of office.  Congratulations to them all I look forward to serving the citizens of Biloxi with you once again.

We both need and ask for Our Good Lord’s guidance to move Biloxi into the future the right way, as He would wish. 

We’re honored today to have Bishop James Black from the Faith Tabernacle of Praise and Bishop Louis Kihneman of the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi.

Thank you both.  Please continue to remember Biloxi and its citizens in your prayers.  After this past year, I can attest that prayer works.

Thank you, Col. William Hunter, the new Commander of 81st Training Wing at Keesler Air Force Base, for leading the Pledge of Allegiance this afternoon.  Welcome to Biloxi.

I’m sure Col. Heather Blackwell, your predecessor, described what a very special relationship and history Keesler and Biloxi enjoys.

Welcome as well to all of our Keesler cousins joining us today.  Col. Hunter, I’ll bet you didn’t know that when the time comes, you’ll choose to retire in Biloxi, if I do my job right.

Also, a special welcome and thank you to the Judges, Supervisors and other public Officials with us today.  Be assured that we highly value the relationships we have with each one of you.

But, the relationship that I value the most is the one I have with my wife Serena, wife for life, and in a few months, we will celebrate our 53rd wedding anniversary.

I offer my sincere thanks to my entire super family for always supporting me, putting up with me in achieving this lifelong dream of mine — to lead my hometown.

On many occasions, Serena tells me this job is going to kill me but not you.  I pledge to you I’ll do my best not to let that happen.

Most importantly, please join me now, in recognizing and acknowledging, the 600+ employees of the City of Biloxi who meet the challenges and reach for those goals we have for Biloxi every day.

Biloxi is many things, almost all good, and many of them great.  Our goal is to make each one them even greater.

That brings us to the Council.  A great relationship has been forged over the last six years.

There are seven members of the Biloxi City Council. You all know that I was only kidding comparing the Council to the seven kingdoms in the Game of Thrones, right!!

But, I am proud to say that the majority of the votes have been unanimous.  Not once

have I had the occasion to use the veto.  I have signed every document approved by the Council. 

Make no mistake, together we will always stand up for Biloxi.  We like to “give peace a chance”.

It’s a little scary, but over the past years, we’ve grown to know how each other will act and re-act to different situations.

Like on a football team and the Council is the offensive line.  We have played six seasons together. Sometimes it’s a tight formation, sometimes it’s a spread formation and even sometimes it’s unbalanced.

Bottom line, you can count on the team successfully executing the “play”. We have made some pretty good plays in the last few years.

These are exciting times for Biloxi.  Extraordinary progress has been made on many of the transformational projects.

You see new boardwalks, walkways and streets.  Next big project up for completion,  Division St. improvements along with the new Keesler Main Gate.

We hope to see billions of dollars more in development in the near future. 

Of course, the Popp’s Ferry Road extension to Hwy 90 matching up with a new Popp’s Ferry Bridge is at the top of our infrastructure list.

Recently you may have heard me say: “we have accomplished a lot of things in the last six years, but I’m here to tell you that the best is yet to come.” I firmly believe that is true.

 Let me update my remarks I made at the last State of the City about Gaming and Sales Tax revenue.

Gross gaming revenue is net $ income on which casino’s pay taxes each month.

According to State records, for April and May 2021, Biloxi’s eight casinos generated nearly $199 million in gross gaming revenue. The two-month totals are again “astounding” and has never been accomplished in the 29-year history of gaming in Biloxi.

The record for a single month Sales Tax revenue was August 2016, $1.24 million.  April 2021, Sales Tax revenue hit $1.22 million and in May 2021, revenue was $1.16 million.  Never before has Sales Tax revenue exceeded $1 million in back to back months.

It’s worth repeating.  Numbers don’t lie and everyone needs to draw their own conclusions.  No matter why they came, however they got here, from wherever they came, the fact is…that they got here.  The result was great…and we expect them back in the future.  We have always proclaimed that if a visitor comes to Biloxi one time, our product will sell itself. 

I’ll close by saying…the one great thing about Biloxi is that we are a diverse community.  We are who we are. People from many walks of life.  People walking in different styles of shoes. Some people wear socks. But you know, “walk a mile in my shoes”.  Some people are rich.  Some people are hard-working.  Some people don’t live in the same place they did 15 years ago or maybe have a different station in life.

Regardless of where they live or where they are in life, their heart is in Biloxi.  That’s the one thing that brings every one of us in this room together.  We love Biloxi.  WE ARE BILOXI.