Johnny DuPree

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Johnny DuPree
Johnny DuPree 2011.jpg
Mayor of Hattiesburg, Mississippi
In office
July 2001 – July 2017
Preceded by Ed Morgan[1]
Succeeded by Toby Barker (elect)
Personal details
Born (1953-11-18) November 18, 1953 (age 63)
Fort Benning, Georgia, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Johniece DuPree (1972–present)
Children 2 daughters
Alma mater University of Southern

Jackson State University
Website Campaign website

Johnny DuPree (born November 18, 1953) is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who has served as the mayor of Hattiesburg, Mississippi since 2001. He was the Democratic Party nominee for Governor of Mississippi in 2011.[1][2] He was the first African-American major party nominee for Governor in Mississippi since the Reconstruction era.[3]

Early life[edit]

Johnny DuPree was born in Fort Benning, Georgia. As a small boy, he moved to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, with his mother, brother, and sister. DuPree is a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity.[4]


DuPree entered public service in 1987 when he was appointed to the Hattiesburg Public School Board. A year later, he and his wife established a small business in real estate. In 1991, he was elected to the Forrest County Board of Supervisors where he served for 10 years before running for mayor of Hattiesburg in 2001.[4]

Mayor of Hattiesburg[edit]

In 2001, DuPree became the first African-American mayor of Hattiesburg after winning 53% of the vote. He was re-elected twice in the next decade. During his first campaign for mayor, DuPree ran on a platform of shoring up education and protecting small business.[5] At the time, Robert Ingram, the executive director of economic development at the University of Southern Mississippi, predicted that DuPree would support locally owned small business while also being active in industrial recruitment.[5] Despite damage to the city resulting from Hurricane Katrina and a global recession, the health of Hattiesburg’s small businesses remained steady during DuPree’s tenure as mayor. Ingram’s predictions for Hattiesburg under the DuPree administration were largely accurate.[6] In 2010, employment statistics showed Hattiesburg registering only 8.6 percent at a time when the state unemployment rate was 11.2 and the national rate was 11.1.[6] Also during DuPree's tenure as mayor, annual crime statistics released by the Hattiesburg Police Department in showed a 10 percent overall decrease in reported crime since 2008.[7]

Response to Katrina[edit]

On the Sunday before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, DuPree was invited to address the congregation of Mt Carmel Baptist Church, where he warned the congregation about the “devastation churning its way across the Gulf of Mexico.” [8] In the aftermath of the storm, the city lost power and water for several days.[9] Due to the lack of a response from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the city under DuPree resorted to leasing essential equipment and goods on its own, items such as generators, which would normally be available through federal and state emergency services.[9] Because of Hattiesburg’s position as a regional hub and as the first major metropolitan area outside of New Orleans, the city was flooded with thousands of evacuees. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, DuPree's government worked to meet the needs of the displaced evacuees without assistance from federal agencies.[9]

In the weeks following Katrina, DuPree was a vocal critic of FEMA’s inept performance and perceived indifference. Although the federal response to the Katrina disaster resulted in many high-profile accusations of racism, DuPree was among those who emphasized the role of income disparity. He also stated that "those charged with providing to those in need simply failed when called upon."[8]

2011 gubernatorial election[edit]

In the Democratic primary, DuPree faced businessman and future Clarksdale mayor Bill Luckett and two minor candidates. Despite a significant fundraising disadvantage,[10] on August 23, 2011, DuPree defeated Luckett by 179,748 votes (43.6%) to 161,833 (39.2%).

He faced and was defeated by Republican nominee Phil Bryant in the general election on November 8, 2011.

2013 mayoral election[edit]

DuPree faced fourth ward councilman Dave Ware, a fellow Democrat who ran as an independent, along with three minor candidates in his bid for a fourth term as mayor. In the June 4 election, DuPree was believed to be the winner by 37 votes out of over 9,600 cast, but concerns were raised about possible voter fraud, eligibility of some voters, and the fact that the city clerk left ballots unsecured in city hall the night before the election. Ware filed an election challenge on June 24, and a special judge was appointed by the state Supreme Court to hear the case. The jury initially found in favor of Ware in a 9-3 vote, the bare minimum for a verdict, however after Judge William Coleman polled the jurors, the count shifted to 8-4 and a mistrial was declared.[11]

After a new election was ordered, another dispute arose over choosing replacements for two election commissioners who resigned. Ultimately, a clean slate of commissioners was chosen to oversee the special election. On election day, one precinct's ballot box was returned unsealed and, despite state law stating boxes must be locked and sealed at the precinct, the ballots were counted anyway. In the end, DuPree again narrowly bested Ware, this time by a margin of 217 votes.[12][13]

2017 mayoral election[edit]

DuPree was defeated in a bid for a fifth consecutive term as mayor, losing to Toby Barker, a Republican member of the state House of Representatives who ran as an independent.[14]


DuPree has been married to Johniece since 1972. They have two daughters, April and Monica and two grandsons, Chandler DuPree Taylor and Chesney DuPree Taylor. His daughter, April DuPree Taylor (Coustaur Taylor), works at the Department of Communication at the University of South Alabama. His youngest daughter, Monica DuPree, is an educator in the Hattiesburg Public School District.[4]


  1. ^ a b "Sweet Victory For First Black Mayor Of Hattiesburg, Ms". Jet. 2001. Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Emily Wagster Pettus (August 24, 2011). "Miss: 1st black modern major-party nominee for gov". Google News. Retrieved August 24, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c
  5. ^ a b Gillette, Becky. "Mayor-elect says small business economy's 'backbone'." Mississippi Business Journal 23, no. 27 (July 2, 2001): 16.
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b Adderton, Donald. “In Katrina’s Aftermath, don’t forget Mississippi” Herald News (September 6th, 2006):d04
  9. ^ a b c Conan, Neal, and Robert Smith. "Hurricane Katrina Coverage." NPR News Special Coverage 3:00 AM EST NPR. NPR, 9 3, 2005.
  10. ^ "Johnny DuPree wins historic Miss. nomination". CBS News. 
  11. ^ Blinder, Alan (2013-07-31). "Mistrial in Mississippi Case Over Mayoral Election". New York Times. Retrieved 2017-06-12. 
  12. ^ "2nd biggest event of 2013: The Hattiesburg Mayoral election controversies". WDAM-TV. Retrieved 2017-06-12. 
  13. ^ Doherty, Tim (2014-10-18). "Election investigation results in 7 misdemeanor charges". Hattiesburg American. Retrieved 2015-02-15. 
  14. ^ Burns, Haskel (2017-06-06). "Barker defeats DuPree, 2 new council members elected". Hattiesburg American. Retrieved 2017-06-07. 

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
John Eaves
Democratic nominee for Governor of Mississippi
Succeeded by
Robert Gray