After a landslide victory in the June 8 general election, Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker will return for a second term as the Hub City’s 35th mayor, while Hattiesburg City Council will see a returning face in new Ward 4 Councilman Dave Ware.
After final but unofficial results were tabulated, Barker, an Independent, defeated Democratic opponent LaKeylah White 6,697 votes to 1,184, for 85 percent of the vote. Ware, who served as Ward 4 Councilman until an unsuccessful mayoral bid in 2013, won his former seat back by defeating incumbent Councilwoman Mary Dryden.
“I’m very humbled and grateful to the folks of Hattiesburg, and I’m so excited about our city’s future,” Barker said. “I think the most rewarding thing has just been seeing our city come together, and kind of having one mind for this collective vision for what our city can be. I look forward to what the next four years can bring.”
In his first four years at Hattiesburg’s helm, Barker focused on renewing the bond for the Hattiesburg Public School District, passing the city’s first structurally-balanced budget in 10 years, and securing federal funding for two overpasses in downtown Hattiesburg.
He also championed the additional 1 percent tax increase at Hattiesburg restaurants, hotels and motels that is currently being used to fund several Parks and Recreation Department projects around the city, including a splash pad in Palmers Crossing and an extension to the walking trail at Duncan Lake, among others.
“I think there are a few immediate challenges that we have to take care of, and that mainly involves infrastructure and the continued improvement of our public schools,” Barker said. “There are some amazing opportunities there right now, not only with the economic development activity we’ve seen over the last year, but also with the American Rescue Plan.
“That’s going to bring some important one-time investments into our community. So leveraging those things around a shared vision, I think we can navigate the next four years.”
Barker, who represented District 102 in the Mississippi House of Representatives for 10 years, was elected as mayor in 2017, defeating longtime Mayor Johnny DuPree for the seat.
Originally from Meridian, Barker moved to Hattiesburg in 2000 to attend the University of Southern Mississippi, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communications in 2004 and a master’s degree in economic development in 2006. He received a Masters of Healthcare Leadership from Brown University in 2015.
“I tell people this all the time: Hattiesburg is capable of playing in a bigger league,” Barker said. “I think the next four years will show us what that looks like, and I’m excited to see that manifest itself.”
The results for Hattiesburg City Council races are as follows:
- Ward 1: Incumbent Ward 1 Councilman Jeffrey George will return for a second term on council, defeating challenger Ken Chambers 702 votes to 230. George defeated Chambers in 2017 election to win the seat.
- Ward 2: Councilwoman Deborah Delgado is returning for a sixth term in the Ward 2 seat. She ran unopposed in the general election after defeating opponents Cedric Dallas and Charlie “Scrap” Johnson with 66 percent of the vote in the April 6 Democratic primary.
- Ward 3: Council president Carter Carroll defeated challenger Picasso Nelson Sr., 1,663 votes to 679.
- Ward 4: Ware will serve as the new Ward 4 Councilman after defeating Dryden 1,137 votes to 774.
- Ward 5: Nicholas R. Brown will take over Ward 5 for a second term, having run unopposed in the general election after being re-elected in the Democratic primary.