HATTIESBURG, MS. - The Hattiesburg municipal election took many residents by surprise after the incumbent Democrat Mayor Johnny DuPree was defeated by the Independent State Representative Toby Barker.
Representative (Rep.) Barker ended Tuesday night with 5,681 votes and DuPree with 3,797 votes.
“And we may know the road ahead may not be easy, but I will be honest with you about the challenges we face" said Rep. Barker during his speech to his supporters at the downtown venue.
According to Rep. Barker, Mayor DuPree called to congratulate Barker on his successful win. “They Mayor has given so much for this community and his legacy will be a positive one" said Rep. Barker.
“To have him extend his congratulations means a lot, he has been a pillar of the community" Rep. Barker continued.
"I think it’s important to acknowledge the people who have come before you and learn lessons from them, we are excited to make a new chapter for Hattiesburg.”
He said he is excited to begin his new journey working on infrastructure, education, and customer service. “I think that we have to bring everyone around the table" Barker said.
Rep. Barker added, "One thing we pledge to do is town hall meetings in every neighborhood the first three months, there are neighborhoods that feel neglected out there.”
He owes part of his win to millennial voters. “Well Hattiesburg is a young town, and one thing that we believe specifically is that we believe in millennial."
"And our students and young professionals are part of the Hattiesburg today, not the Hattiesburg tomorrow.”
The city will also see new City Council members. Ward 5 Councilman Henry Naylor was defeated by Democrat Nicholas Brown.
A former University of Southern Mississippi, student body President, Jeffery George, 23, won the Ward 1 position against Ken Chambers.
Independent Mayoral candidate Shawn O'Hara ended Tuesday night with a final of 44 votes.
DuPree served for 16 years with the city of Hattiesburg. Rep. Barker served with the Mississippi Legislature for 10 years and will take office July 1 as the new Hattiesburg Mayor.