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Prominent Coast attorney announces bid for Gulfport mayoral seat

Hugh Keating (photo courtesy of Dukes, Keating, Hatten, McRaney and Blum)

Following current Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes’ announcement that he will not seek reelection, prominent Mississippi Gulf Coast attorney Hugh Keating has tossed his hat in the ring.

Keating officially registered as a Republican mayoral candidate for the Magnolia State’s second-largest municipality on Tuesday. He brings a wealth of community experience to the table, which he believes makes him a fit for the job.

“Over the course of the last 40 years, I’ve done a lot of work for the municipality of Gulfport and other governmental entities,” Keating told SuperTalk Mississippi News. “It’s given me a unique insight from looking outside in and from the inside out. I’ve always tried to live my life as a person who puts service above self, and I believe we have an obligation to be good citizens. The timing is right for me.”

Keating aims to step into the sizable shoes of Billy Hews and the late George Schloegel, who both played key roles in the recovery and progress of Gulfport following Hurricane Katrina.

“It’s almost like a calling,” Keating said. “I feel like I can hit the ground running and for it to be a seamless transition. We’ve got a lot of transformative projects in the pipeline that need to be carried to fruition. But the city has other needs to be addressed – there’s always room for improvement.”

The longtime lawyer expressed a need to emphasize the economic strengths of Gulfport, particularly the “blue economy” factor. Nevertheless, he also noted that there are needs beyond economic improvement and he intends to improve the quality of life for all citizens of the city.

With Mississippi Democrats like Brandon Presley circling the Gulfport mayoral seat to potentially no longer be a Republican stronghold, Keating says while the first step is winning the Republican primary, he’s up for the challenge.

“I can only do what I can do,” Keating said. “I’m Gulfport true blue – five generations deep now. I love this city and have given as much as I can to help support it and grow community services. I’ll continue to do that regardless.”

He went on to emphasize his commitment to serving “all segments of the community.” That pledge is reflected in the construction of multiple advisory committees where every demographic of the city will be represented.

“I’m not the type of person to take a hardcore position in extreme ways,” Keating said. “I try to find consensus and build cooperation. I intend to make sure all of their needs are addressed.”

Municipal elections are set to be held in the spring of 2025, with new terms beginning next July.

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