by Calvin Ishee, Associate Publisher

At 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 1, 2021, 5 Alderman and 1 Mayor officially took office in front of a crowd over 300 enthusiastic supporters.

Three of the elected officials are new to City government; Mayor Jimmy Rafferty, Ward 1 Alderwoman Betty Sparkman and Ward 3 Alderman Kirk Kimball. Returning for another term are Alderman at Large Kenny Torgeson, Ward 2 Alderwoman Regina Charlot and Ward 4 Alderman Victor Pickich. This signifies a new Mayor leading the City with his own vision for the first time in 16 years, hence a new beginning for The Pass.

City Attorney Malcolm Jones served as the Master of Ceremonies and opened with,  “I’m so glad to see so many people that are out for this. We haven’t really had a good swearing ceremony for a long time and I think this is a good sign of things to come.”

Police Chief Daren Freeman and Fire Chief Dwight Gordon led the crowd in a resounding rendition of the Pledge of Allegiance. Then, Father Mike Austin, Holly Family Catholic Church then offered the invocation and a brief reading from Galatians, Chapter 5 beginning with verse 22, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, playfulness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such there is no law.”  “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us have no self conceit, no provoking of one another and no ending of one other.” “We pray for our newly elected officials.”

With the exception of Alderwoman Regina Charlot, the oath of office was rendered by Mississippi State Supreme Court Chief Justice, Judge Michael Randolph. Alderwoman Charlot asked local Judge Melvin Ray to conduct her swearing in. Close friends and family members alike were given the opportunity to participate in the swearing in ceremony.

Greeted with a hearty standing ovation from the crowd, new Mayor Jimmy Rafferty was given the floor and he offered the following, “I have to tell you this is unbelievable and very inspiring. The first thing I’d like to do this thank all of you for being here.”

He then went on and thanked his supporters, members of his campaign team, past and current Board members, as well as those that supported this momentous event. The Mayor added, “As you all know, there are risks and challenges here. We have the center of our town 16 years after Katrina and it’s still undeveloped…and that’s what we need to work on. We also have many parts north of the railroad tracks.  And we need to find a way to come together to deal with these issues.”  He went on to laud the support that he received from all over the City. He talked about his passion for The Pass and how he wants to “make Pass Christian a much more inclusive place.”

Additionally, he thanked former Mayor Leo “Chipper” McDermott for his leadership as well as Team Rafferty for their support. He concluded by saying, “Team Rafferty ends today and Team Pass Christian begins today.”

At the conclusion of the event the crowd was provided with a massive spread of assorted foods provided by Pass Christian’s very own Cook’s Day Off.

Although the lines were long, they moved relatively fast and attendees commented just how delicious the food was.  According to Cook’s Day Off owner Ruth O’Dwyer, “I feel honored to be chosen to cater the Pass Christian Swearing In Ceremony.”  She added that it “took about 3 hours to prepare the food and another hour to set up the facility.”

Chef O’Dwyer made a point of giving credit to her great team of six people. Just the day before, she received a call to “triple the order” and replied, “no problem.”  She concluded by saying, “We love it, it was a complete honor to be asked to do it.”

Now that the celebration of the installation of a new administration is over,  the real work begins. Many issues were brought up during and after the election that will have to be addressed such as flooding and drainage problems throughout the City, hiring a new Public Works Director, attracting new business, fixing the harbor, sidewalks on North Street and countless other issues.

As stated throughout the swearing in ceremony, everyone is wishing this Administration the very best of luck during their term of office.