Barker defeats DuPree in Hub City mayoral election

Barker defeats DuPree in Hub City mayoral election
Source: WDAM

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - With only 35 percent voter turnout, residents in the city of Hattiesburg elected a new mayor, District 102 State Representative, Toby Barker.

Barker, who ran as an independent, defeated four-time incumbent, Mayor Johnny DuPree in the general election on Tuesday.

"Well we're overwhelmed, we're excited…this city has been our home for a long time and we know how much potential Hattiesburg has," said Barker. "It's an incredibly humbling feeling, for all these people and supporters to put their trust in me for the next four years."

With a vote tally of 5,681 to 3,797, Barker defeated DuPree, who called him to concede the race around 10 p.m. as roughly 12 of 14 precincts had reported.

"The mayors given so much to this community, and his legacy will be a positive one, I believe that, and to have him extend his congratulations meant a lot, because he has been a pillar of the community," Barker said.

Barker, who will take office July 3, 2017, added that he will continue pushing the city of Hattiesburg forward over the next four years.

"I think that we have to bring everyone around the table, one thing we pledged to do is town hall meetings in every neighborhood in the first three months, because there are a lot of neighborhoods that are feeling neglected right now and we have to go and listen on what their issues are," said Barker.

He said one thing important to the city, is the younger generation, which was a helping hand in his election.

"One thing that we spoke to specifically was that we believe millennials and our students and young professionals are part of the Hattiesburg of today, not just the Hattiesburg of tomorrow," said Barker. "They have a lot to offer right now, their energy feeds the dynamic nature of this city and we look forward to them being at the table as we move forward."

Barker added that he is looking forward to having conversations with people regarding public schools, infrastructure, and customer service.

"We know that we have a lot of people who care about the city, we also know that we have some challenges," said Barker. "Trying to execute those things we talked about on the campaign, but doing so with everyone at the table."

One of Barker's main goal is making the Hub City even stronger.

"We're excited to help write the next chapter of Hattiesburg's story," said Barker. "If you're looking for the quality of life of all your residents, downtown is going to come back and come back stronger than it was."

According to election books, the city of Hattiesburg has 27,216 registered voters, and had a total of 9,525 ballots cast on Tuesday. Affidavit and absentee ballots are expected to be counted some time Wednesday, which must be certified by June 14, 2017.