In an open letter to 2nd Ward voters and other Bay St. Louis citizens, Wendy McDonald points out that the ability to put aside differences and work together toward a common goal is our community’s strongest asset.
Attention Ward 2 Residents:
The race for 2nd Ward Council Member is the only race on the June 8 ballot. Cast your vote at the Bay St. Louis Library, 312 Highway 90. Voting hours are 7 am – 7 pm.
As head of Bay-Waveland Area Habitat for Humanity for ten years after Katrina, I’ve already seen this truth in action. It didn’t matter what political party or church someone belonged to. It didn’t matter what race they were or how old they were or their educational background or economic status.
What did matter was they wanted this town to come back after one of the worst disasters in American history and they worked together tirelessly for many years to make that happen.
After my accident, I saw that same spirit. So many in this community, from all walks of life, dedicated time and encouragement and prayers to lift up my family and help me recover. I came away understanding more than ever that the ability to put aside differences and work toward a common goal is our community’s strongest asset.
We need to draw on that rare and treasured ability now. Bay St. Louis stands at a pivotal crossroads. We’re growing by leaps and bounds in ways few could have imagined. Bay St. Louis population has increased by a staggering 51.6% in the last ten years – from 9,260 to an estimated 14,034.
While growth is good, if we’re not careful, we can lose the community character that is the birthright of native residents and the main reason newcomers were attracted.
We want tourism, new residents and new development, yet we don’t want the rapid growth to overwhelm what residents prize about our lifestyle.
Historical census figures for Bay St. Louis
We’re not the first city to face the issue of supporting our community character while growing rapidly. I’ve spent the last four years researching and traveling to cities that are wrestling with the same challenges to gather ideas.
I now understand that it’s possible to enjoy increased tourism and growth while preserving our character. I believe we can prosper economically while we make our city more livable than ever. But we have to start with a common vision.
How do we get that vision?
There is a time-tested process called a Comprehensive Plan. Trained city planners facilitate community meetings where local citizens share ideas and concerns. Residents and business owners come together to create a plan that visualizes Bay St Louis 25 years into the future. Then our zoning ordinances are updated to reflect that vision.
Comp plans are supposed to be updated every five to ten years. Our last one was put together shortly after Katrina. We’re way overdue. The comp plan process doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s critical that we get started right away.
That’s the first project I’ll tackle as your Ward 2 council representative. Our district is sometimes called the “heart of Bay St. Louis” because it’s the historic town center. It’s usually the one that gets national recognition and has brought millions of dollars of free publicity to the city. But Ward 2 is also the one most impacted by the rapid growth without a common vision.
I know from personal experience that the people of Bay St. Louis can put aside their differences and come together for yet another goal – building a strong and vital and sustainable city. I will lead the effort to find that common vision and then work toward manifesting it for future generations.
To continue working for you, I am humbly asking for your vote on June 8. I also need support from those who don’t live in Ward 2 – please call or text a friend who does live in the Ward and ask them to vote for me.
Thank you so much for reading this. I have spoken to many of you personally as I have walked every street in Ward 2 to listen to what is important to you. Please don’t hesitate to call or text me at 228-224-1914 with questions or concerns.
I appreciate your consideration.
We at the Shoofly Magazine believe that it's crucial for Bay St. Louis to get started on a new Comprehensive Plan to set the course for the future. Read more about why that's so important herein this recent Shoofly Magazine piece.
So for the first time in ten years of serving the community, the Shoofly Magazine is endorsing a BSL City Council candidate. We are recommending that 2nd Ward residents cast their vote for Wendy McDonald. We believe she has the know-how and drive to help lead us through the Comp Plan process and into a prosperous future while "making our city more livable than ever."
Please vote on June 8.