by Brian Lamar, Assignment Editor

With two public debates, a bevy of social media spats, and more than a dozen meet-and-greet type events between them, the three mayoral candidates, Jimmy Rafferty, Adam Pace, Zenas Cappie and Peggy Johnson for Pass Christian are in the home stretch of their campaigns.

Citizens exercising their birth rights to pick the head executive representative of their hometown will line up on April 6 and cast their vote to fill in the void left behind by the beloved Chipper McDermott as he calls it quits after serving the people of Pass Christian as mayor since 2006.

The long journey for the three candidates in the running has been met with plenty of yard signs, ads in the paper, and speaking engagements mixed in with a dash of small-town scandal.

Scandal #1: Adam Pace, who has been a long-time businessman in the Pass has been accused of not living within the city limits for the mandatory two-years prior to certifying for the election in the Republican Primary race. Pace answered this criticism with a statement on his social media page.

“In late 2018, I sold my home on Hackberry Drive when someone unexpectedly offered to buy it. Then, my family and I began searching for property where we could construct a new home. We found and purchased that property in 2020, which is located off of Menge Avenue at the end of Alicia Street, and the development and construction process for the property is well underway. During this transition, while we await the completion of the construction of our new home, my family and I have lived temporarily both in an apartment in Pass Christian that is owned by my company and now in a makeshift space in a commercial building owned by my business partners that sits just outside the city limits.,” said Pace.

His statement online did confirm that he currently lives outside of the city limits.

Scandal #2: Jimmy Rafferty has been accused of filing homestead tax exemption in the state of Virginia where he had a job with a brokerage firm. Again, this was brought up in the Town Hall debates by Rafferty where he refuted the claim.

Jimmy Rafferty has been seen out and about meeting and greeting with the new customary fist bump. Long over are the days of shaking hands and kissing babies due to covid fears.

In a recent event where Rafferty met with Pass Christian High School students at the Cat Island Coffeehouse, he was met with gratitude and praise.

“We just want to thank you,” said one of the students in attendance, “because you are the only candidate in the election that reached out to the high school students.”

When discussing his candidacy for mayor, Rafferty expressed, “Voters should vote for me because I will be a full-time, resident Mayor of Pass Christian.  Pass Christian is the premiere residential city on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and I want to keep it that way.  I have the experience, passion and energy to attract small businesses to come to Pass Christian to make Pass Christian an even better place to live, work and vacation.”

Cappie, who seemed very nervous and timid during the town hall debates in the high school gymnasium, was the only candidate to publicly bring up better salaries and equipment for the police force and other city government officials.

Cappie’s response about his intentions for the Pass Christian Mayoral Race were, “I have lived in Pass Christian my whole life, and I love the city and the people in it. I believe I can make a difference as Mayor of Pass Christian by leveraging my decades of experience in public service and collaborative leadership to infuse accountability, community, and development into our town.  I know who we are as a community, I know the opportunities that can make us stronger as a coastal presence, and I’m committed to gaining the public’s trust to execute a vision for all that live here and have a stake in our success, progress and forward mobility.  I look forward to the citizens and officials seeing me roll up my sleeves alongside them as we build back the foundation that made us who we are and expect growth and accountability for all.”

Pace, who has been fighting off accusations of his legitimacy in his campaign, he has worked very hard to establish his rapport with voters explaining his contributions to the business community of Pass Christian.

Pace stated, “My wife, Alison, and I moved back here 12 years ago to live and invest in our hometown. We created a company to redevelop The Pass in the wake of Katrina, and have been working to improve our town ever since.  I have served on the planning commission, developing smart regulations to allow our town to grow and prosper. We own the hardware store downtown, a wine and spirits store, and are active in our community and church in many ways.

I also formed the economic development committee and have been instrumental in Pass Christian’s role in Cruisin’ The Coast, an event that brings millions of dollars of economic activity annually.  We are deeply rooted in Pass Christian, and I am in this race because I believe passionately in its potential. There is no better place in Mississippi to call home, and I’d be honored to serve you as your Mayor.”

The Gazebo Gazette was unable to reach contact with Peggy Johnson, the Democratic candidate for questions.

In a Wednesday decision at the Harrison County Courthouse in Gulfport, Ward 3 Alderman candidate Kirk Kimball was ruled qualified in a statement from a special circuit judge.