by Brian Lamar, Assignment Editor

Long Beach Mayor:  George Bass v. John Ruth

There is a Chinese Proverb that says “When is the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago. When is the 2nd best time to plant a tree? Now.

George Bass seemed to channel this ancient wisdom when talking about one of the biggest undertakings that the City of Long Beach has been discussing for the last couple of years; The Beatline Parkway.

This immense project that was on the books for the Gulf Regional Planning Commission’s 2040 plan meant that the study to determine how the parkway would work wouldn’t even occur until 2040. By that time, development around Long Beach would have this main artery to the city congested. Locals are already starting to see the effects of additional development with backups on Beatline every day.

Bass also recognized this issue and went to the commission and asked for that study to be done now, which moved up the timeline considerably. That doesn’t mean the Beatline Parkway is any closer to being finished though.

“I’m 66 years old now. If the good Lord blesses me with health and I live to be 86 years old they may be breaking ground. If we had waited until 2040 for the study, the new development would have impacted the project more severely due to crowding. I will not be in office when this happens,” said Bass.

According to Bass, at the beginning of his previous term as mayor, one of his main goals was to improve drainage. The City has spent considerable time and effort improving that infrastructure. Another goal was to bring in new business. Nearly 60 new businesses in Long Beach have gotten their start since he has been in office. The city also averages approximately 125 new houses built each year with nearly 225 new housing construction a year planned for the next couple of years.

One of the big wins of the administration is the beautification and organization of the area around Highway 90 and Jeff Davis. The city recently proposed a project to the Mississippi Development Authority to revitalize that area. MDA awarded Long Beach a grant of $2 million. The project will be focused on signage and other attractants to entice travelers off of Hwy 90 and toward businesses downtown.

Bass also has plans to fill in the gaps between Jeff Davis and the USM Gulf Park Campus to have continuous sidewalks between the campus and downtown.

“I want to provide a good, safe, clean and walkable way to get downtown for the students,” said Bass.

According to Bass, more sidewalks are in the works in the near future. The city is getting ready to put out bids for sidewalks between five points and Jeff Davis and Harper McCaughan to five points. When completed, this will result in an uninterrupted sidewalk all the way from Pineville to Jeff Davis.

Also, to keep the people of Long Beach safe and secure is to replace three police cars each year. According to Bass, some of the cars have up to 300,000 miles on them due to use.

Paving projects are at the forefront of Bass’s agenda as well. Paving maintenance programs are underway, but Bass will be looking and more grants and other funding for.

Bass has not been afraid to go to D.C. to lobby for funding for harbor improvements. After several attempts for funding that continued to get turned down, Bass sat down with Senator Cindy-Hyde Smith and was able to communicate the city’s needs and went back with other city leaders to adjust the plan for the westward expansion of the Harbor.

According to Bass, the future is bright. The biggest priority for him in the next four years is to finish the improvements to drainage. In a trip to D.C., Bass and colleagues secured a $100 million grant to continue the infrastructure upgrades and he is not afraid to go fight for more.

Bass claims that his personal goals and priorities are to continue to help the people and the city that he loves dearly and he hopes the people of Long Beach continue to trust him to work and fight for them.

John Ruth wants your vote, not because he is a politician running for office, but because he prides himself on being a technician first and foremost.

Ruth, who recently released a statement on his campaign’s social media platform, said that he is simply a citizen who is exhausted of observing the reduced direction of our city and country.

“There are numerous examples just around Long Beach of what I meant by my statement online. Some of my opponents or co-candidates are touting what they are doing with the drainage. All I’ve noticed is stagnation and lack of improvements,” he said.

“There is a general disregard of the City’s infrastructure (roads, drainage, etc.). Also, the lack of communication by the city’s leaders for what they are undertaking such as not returning citizens phone calls and removing public comment from city council meetings unless that topic is on the agenda,” Ruth explained.

Ruth, a Navy veteran who relocated to South Mississippi for his daughter’s health, is in love with the city of Long Beach and is worried about the direction the current city’s leadership plans to take it.

“This is not Gulfport. The current government wants to be able to do all the same stuff that gulfport is doing. We don’t live in Gulfport for a reason. We don’t live in Biloxi for a reason. We certainly don’t want LB to become one of those,” said Ruth.

Ruth, who claims that he has zero desire for a career in politics, plans to get in mayor’s office with his pants on fire and leave it better than he found it.

“I am doing my absolute best to make it abundantly clear that I am running for office to fix certain issues. If I can get those issues fixed, I plan to be a one and done mayor,” said Ruth regarding his goals to fix infrastructure issues such as roads and flooding.

Additionally, Ruth plans to keep an open-door policy for the citizens of Long Beach. He hopes to be able to field suggestions from the community and a small-business advisory board in order to get the small-business owner’s insight.

Ruth also has plans to improve information coming out of city hall as well.

“The complete and total lack of any information coming out of city hall is simply appalling. We have no idea what they are up to. Trying to get information out of them is like pulling teeth,” said Ruth.

Ruth hasn’t been shy when voicing his opinion in public forums regarding big topics that affect Long Beach, even when that opinion was unpopular.

“I did not vote for the new high school. I voted against the high school because the problems I kept hearing about the facility were problems of inefficient or poor maintenance. If they can’t take care of their existing facility, then why give them a new one,” he said.

Ruth also has concerns regarding the Casino and is not in favor of this development in Long Beach.

“I am not for a casino. I predict problems with traffic and theft. My concern is that the city will overextend themselves relying on the casino money and one day it will dry up. Also, I am not sure our infrastructure can handle it. I have seen nothing with our current infrastructure to this point that suggests that we can competently handle the job of supporting a casino,” he said.

Ruth, who prides himself on his personal ideals, says he is pretty conservative and holds the constitution in high esteem.

“In my opinion, it appears that most politicians today work under the principle of ‘we speak, you listen’. This is not conventional; our taxes pay their salary, and at the end of the day they work for the citizens. If you choose to elect me as your mayor, I will return our city to that principle of operation. We will work for you the people of Long Beach, MS.”