News

State Representative Toby Barker Announces Candidacy for Mayor of Hattiesburg

Hattiesburg, Mississippi — Toby Barker, State Representative for House District 102, formally announces his candidacy for Mayor of Hattiesburg.

Barker has dedicated his career to public service, beginning in 2007 as the youngest person (at the time) to be elected to the Mississippi Legislature. Since that time, he has effectively represented Central Hattiesburg and has tackled many legislative issues that have a direct effect on the citizens of Hattiesburg.

Known for his active involvement and steadfast commitment to Hattiesburg, Barker believes now, more than ever, that Hattiesburg must seize its potential, overcome current challenges and pursue a path beneficial to all.

“Hattiesburg is a dynamic place to live strengthened by the diversity, ideas and talent of its people. Though we have our challenges, I believe these challenges are opportunities for us to come together and work toward a positive future built on quality education, state-of-the-art infrastructure and strong neighborhoods in every part of the city,” said Barker.

Barker’s experience includes building broad coalitions to get things done across many policy areas, including public education, criminal justice reform, healthcare and budgeting modernization. He chairs the House Performance Based Budgeting Committee and provided the needed leadership in the House to pass Mississippi’s first investment in early childhood education.

While diverse across policy type, Barker’s accomplishments at the state level have been indicative of his relationship with his constituents in Hattiesburg, providing a direct impact on the people he serves:

  • Secured state resources, by working with Hattiesburg legislative delegation and local officials, to provide sidewalks and safe pathways for Hattiesburg Public School students around Woodley Elementary, Rowan Elementary, Hawkins Elementary and Hattiesburg High.
  • Secured ongoing funding in the K-12 budget for technology upgrades at N.R. Burger Middle School and increased state funding for DuBard School and The Children’s Center for Communication and Development, both at Southern Miss.
  • Secured capital investment, by working with the Hattiesburg legislative delegation, for both the Hattiesburg Zoo and the Historic Eureka School Museum.
  • Authored legislation that allowed the sale of the former Elam Arms residence hall and parking lot to spur the first commercial development for Midtown Hattiesburg.
  • Successfully secured an additional $1.3 million in state appropriations needed for The University of Southern Mississippi’s insurance deductible after 2013’s tornado.

In addition to his many accomplishments, Barker has provided unwavering support for Hattiesburg’s educational and healthcare institutions.

“Toby Barker understands the potential that we have in Hattiesburg,” said Dr. Joe Paul, chairman of the Toby Barker Campaign. “He not only values diversity, he celebrates it, seeing it as a strength rather than a wedge that might divide us. He is a man that can pull this city together and help us realize a better vision for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.”

Barker moved to Hattiesburg in 2000 to attend The University of Southern Mississippi. There, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications and a Master of Science degree in economic development. In 2015, he earned his Master of Healthcare Leadership degree from Brown University.

While at Southern Miss, he was involved in the Student Government Association at every level and was elected student body vice president as a freshman. He was also active in his fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi, as well as the Baptist Student Union and Men of Excellence. During summer breaks, Barker found a passion for economic development while serving on mission projects in Burkina Faso, West Africa; Jaurez, Mexico; New England; New Orleans; and the Pacific Northwest.

Barker, his wife Kate and their daughter Audra live in the historic Parkhaven Neighborhood. In addition to serving in the House, he works as an account executive with his family-owned advertising business. He is a proud Rotarian with the Rotary Club of Hattiesburg-Sunrise and is also a Paul Harris Fellow. He also serves on several boards and committees, including the Hattiesburg Public School District Foundation Board and the Avenues Alliance, an organization he co-founded that hosts community-related events for the City of Hattiesburg. Barker and his family attend Ekklesia Church in Hattiesburg.