DuPree in March 2011
|Mayor of Hattiesburg, Mississippi|
|Preceded by||Ed Morgan|
November 18, 1953 |
Fort Benning, Georgia, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Johniece DuPree (since 1972)|
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. He was the first African-American major party nominee for Governor in Mississippi since the Reconstruction era. After losing the election for Governor, in 2013 he won reelection to be Mayor of Hattiesburg in an election marred by numerous allegations of voter fraud.
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.
Mayor of Hattiesburg
In 2001, DuPree became the first African-American mayor of Hattiesburg after winning 53% of the vote. He was re-elected twice in next decade. During his first campaign for mayor, DuPree ran on a platform of shoring up education and protecting small business. 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. 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. 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. 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.
Response to Katrina
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.”  In the aftermath of the storm, the city lost power and water for several days. 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. 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.
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."
2011 gubernatorial election
In the Democratic primary, DuPree faced businessman Bill Luckett and two minor candidates. Despite a significant fundraising disadvantage, on August 23, 2011, DuPree defeated Luckett by 179,748 votes (43.6%) to 161,833 (39.2%). Both DuPree and Luckett's campaigns were noted for their lack of negative attacks.
He faced and was defeated by Republican nominee Phil Bryant in the general election on November 8, 2011.
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 Jackson Public School District.
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