April 14–GULFPORT — Former State Sen. Billy Hewes III tells the Sun Herald he plans to run for Gulfport mayor in 2013.
“Literally, not a day goes by that somebody has not asked me over the last few months if I will do it,” said Hewes, a Republican who served 20 years in the Senateand lost a race for lieutenant governor in the 2011 Republican primary. “I think I know the city of Gulfport as well as anybody out there.”
Hewes has worked for 27 years in the insurance business. He and his father, a former Gulfport councilman, have combined their insurance and real estate businesses in Orange Grove.
Hewes believes his experience, his knowledge of Gulfport and the contacts he has made over the years will be strong assets for the city. He is descended fromGulfport’s first mayor, Finley B. Hewes.
Hewes is the first candidate to confirm he will run for the office. Gulfport’s chief administrative officer, John Kelly, had not ruled out a run for mayor in December. Kelly has not responded this week to telephone messages from the Sun Heraldabout his potential candidacy.
Ward 5 Councilman Ricky Dombrowski said he does not plan to run for mayor because Hewes is running.
“We have the same circle of friends,” Dombrowski said. “It would be tough. He’s been a good friend of mine for years. He’ll be fine.”
Former Mayor Brent Warr also has been mentioned as a potential candidate. He would neither confirm nor deny whether he intends to run, The Sun Herald was unable to speak to him by phone this week, but he did respond to a text message asking if he plans to run.
Warr wrote: “People are asking me that a lot here lately. It’s very nice of them to ask.”
The state Constitution would appear to bar Warr’s candidacy, said Matt Steffey, a constitutional law professor at Mississippi College. An amendment added in 1992 says no one convicted of a felony, federal or state, can hold an office of trust inMississippi.
Warr pleaded guilty in late 2009 to theft of FEMA funds after the federal government agreed to drop 19 other charges against him. Warr has said he did nothing wrong in accepting FEMA assistance after Hurricane Katrina, agreeing to the plea only to protect his family.
Warr dropped out of the 2009 mayor’s race while the federal charges were still pending. His friend and fellow Republican George Schloegel won the race, but decided he would serve only one term.
Former Gulfport Fire Chief Pat Sullivan said he has not decided if he will run, but a lot of people have asked about his intentions.
“I’m not saying I am or I’m not,” Sullivan. “I have the utmost respect for Billy. I think he’s going to be a great candidate.”
Article by: Anite Lee, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, MS
(c)2012 The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.)