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Longtime Gulfport mayor Billy Hewes not seeking reelection

Billy Hewes speaking at the Mississippi Municipal League's annual conference in July 2022 (File photo)

Gulfport’s longtime mayor, Billy Hewes, has decided not to seek reelection.

Hewes broke the news during Thursday’s episode of The Gallo Show, joking that “he’s had all the fun he can stand” and will not be running in 2025. Hewes, a Republican stronghold in Mississippi politics for decades, was first elected to lead the state’s largest coastal city in 2013 and is currently in his fourth term in office.

Hewes, who was born in Louisiana but grew up in Gulfport, first entered into politics when he was elected in 1992 to represent Senate District 49. He held that position until 2012, serving as President Pro Tempore from 2008 until 2012. After a loss to current Gov. Tate Reeves in the 2011 race for lieutenant governor, Hewes decided to go home and turn his attention to serving on the local level.

“I realized a long time ago that I really do have an appreciation for and desire to do public service but having done 20 years in the Senate and now on the local level, it’s just to the point that it’s time for me to go to another chapter,” Hewes said. “When it starts getting a little tedious or the pettiness of the business that we’re in starts to become an aggravation, it’s time to get a fresh perspective.”

As for who will bring that fresh perspective to Gulfport City Hall, a couple of names have been floating around the Coast with no official announcements yet. Either way, Hewes encourages anyone thinking about running to throw their hat into the ring.

“I want to make it clear for anyone interested in trying this job to give it a run because it’s a wonderful thing,” Hewes said. “When I came into office here in the second half, someone told me that being mayor is the best and worst job in America…but I’ve always said that I think a lot of that perspective has to do with the city that you get to lead and work with and my default is that it’s one of the best jobs in America because Gulfport is really such a fantastic place.”

During his time as mayor, Hewes has helped continue recovery efforts stemming from Hurricane Katrina. He was instrumental in the construction of the Mississippi Aquarium, the creation of the Harbor Lights Winter Festival, and the advancement of maritime research and development along the Gulfport shoreline.

Hewes will serve out the remainder of his term, which ends in July 2025, and promises to “sprint to the finish” with more work left to do.

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