List of mayors of Meridian, Mississippi

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Meridian City Hall houses the mayor's office.

The mayor of Meridian, Mississippi is elected every four years by the population at large. Being the chief executive officer of the city, he or she is responsible for administering and leading the day-to-day operations of city government. The current mayor of the city is Percy Bland, who was elected in 2013.[1]

City Hall is located at 601 24th Avenue;[2] the mayor's office is located on the second floor of the building.[3]

List of mayors[edit]

Nineteenth century[edit]

Mayor name Term Accomplishments
J. H. Gibbs 1859–1865 Gibbs was elected mayor in 1859 before the city was even incorporated. Upon incorporation in 1860, he was elected again and continued to serve as mayor until the end of the American Civil War in July 1865.[4]
John Armstrong 1865–1866 In the decade after the Civil War, Meridian saw many mayoral changes; there were five different mayors in the year 1871 alone. William L. Sharkey, who had been appointed provisional governor of Mississippi after the war, appointed John Armstrong in July 1865. In December 1865 he was elected by the people and served for another year. R.L Henderson was elected in December 1866 and served until the following January, when the Radical Republicans gained control of Congress and the military appointed new state and local officials. William Cathey was named mayor and served until 1870.

William Sturges, a carpetbagger from the North, succeeded Cathey and served until 1871. The Meridian race riot of 1871 occurred during his administration and resulted in the townspeople running him out of the city in March. John W. Smith was appointed by scalawag governor James L. Alcorn in March and served until September when he was replaced by Grafton Baker. Baker died in October 1871 and was replaced by B.T. Rush, who served until December when he was replaced by W.P. Evans, who served until 1873.[4]

R.L Henderson 1866–1867
William Cathey 1867–1870
William Sturges 1870–Mar 1871
John W. Smith Mar–Sept 1871
Grafton Baker Sept–Oct 1871
B.T. Rush Oct–Dec 1871
W.P. Evans 1871–1873
C. N. Wilcox 1873–1874 Wilcox was elected in January 1873 and was met by the Panic of 1873. Meridian's population dropped from 7000 to 3000, and property values dropped across the city.[4]
E.V. Early 1874–1875
W. W. Shearer 1875–1878 Shearer was elected in December 1874 (He took office in January 1875) and reelected in 1876, but he died in April 1878.[4]
J. T. Taylor 1878–1882 Taylor was elected to fill the remainder of Shearer's term and then reelected in December 1880 to a two-year term. He, too, died during his second term. During his administration, cotton production and shipping grew to become a substantial industry in the city.[4]
Thomas H. Griffin 1882–1893 Griffin was elected in a special election of 1892 after Taylor's death and then reelected and served over 10 years as mayor. His administration ushered in the city's "Golden Age"; business and industry saw great expansion, and many famous businesses such as F.A. Hulett and Son Furniture and Loeb's were founded during this time.[4]
E. H. Dial 1893–1901[5] During Dial's mayorship, the city installed updated infrastructure such as telephone lines, paved streets, and sidewalks.[6] Both the original Union Station and the historic Grand Opera House were built during his tenure as well. Dial is also attributed with coining the city's nickname, "The Queen City."[5]

A marker was unveiled at the mayor's former residence on the corner of 30th Avenue and 10th Street in June 2009.[6] The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979[7] but was later demolished because of its dilapidated condition and replaced by a Habitat for Humanity house.[6]

Twentieth Century[edit]

Mayor name Term Accomplishments
E. E. Spinks 1901–1903 Spinks continued most of Dial's policies. He oversaw the paving of more streets, and an extension of sewage and electric street railway systems. Before he was mayor, he was a local dentist and served 12 years on the Meridian Public School District Board of Directors and 8 years in the City Council.[8]
James Henry Rivers 1903–1909 During Rivers's administration, the East End loop of the street car line was completed, and a committee that would eventually bring about the creation of Highland Park was established by the mayor. He also spoke out against employee neglect in the local cotton mills.[8]
John Woods Parker 1909–1917 During Parker's first administration, six new school buildings were built, and the remainder were enlarged or improved. City streets were expanded from 3 miles (4.8 km) of total length to 15 miles (24 km), and sidewalks were doubled. Meridian City Hall was completed, along with two Carnegie libraries, a jail, and stables. The Meridian Fire Department was upgraded to have a fleet of vehicles instead of horse-drawn buggies as well.[8]
John Milton Dabney 1917–1921 Dabney was mayor during World War I and served only one term.[8] His former residence at 1017 22nd Avenue was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.[9]
John Woods Parker 1921–1923 Parker, who had served previously from 1909 to 1917 was elected again in 1921 and served only half a term before his death in 1923.[8]
William Henry Owen 1923–1933 Owen was elected in a special election after Parker's death. He had been councilman of the city's third ward from 1910 to 1913 and city commissioner from 1913 to 1920. The last four years of his administration were plagued by the Great Depression. Though he was well liked by his peers and the public, he was perceived by many as not being forceful enough to cope with the hard times brought about by the Depression, which lead to his defeat in the 1932 mayoral election.[8]
Clint Vinson 1933–1945
Frank L. Jacobs 1945–1949
Laurence B. Paine 1949–1953
William Smylie 1953–1957[10] Smylie brought the 22nd Avenue Bridge (also known as the James Melton Bridge) to downtown Meridian.[10] This bridge circumvented twenty-six railroad tracks that passed through the center of the city, often stopping traffic on 22nd Avenue.[11]
James C. Downey, Jr. 1957–1961
Henry D. Burns 1961–1965[12]
Algene Key 1965–1973[13] Key, more widely known for breaking the world flight endurance record with his brother Fred in 1935, defeated incumbent Burns in the primaries and went on to win the election.[14] During his administration he took an active role in civic affairs[13] and had previously served as city and county director of civil defense.[14]
Tom Stuart 1973–1977[15] Stuart was the city's first Republican mayor of the 20th century. In the 1973 election, he defeated Democratic incumbent Al Key by a landslide vote. As mayor he brought openness in government, street paving, and attempts to resolve downtown traffic problems.[15]
Alfred Rosenbaum 1977–1985[16] Rosenbaum was the city's first Jewish mayor.[17] Before he was mayor, he was instrumental in bringing Naval Air Station Meridian to the city.[18] During his administration, the National Guard complex at Key Field was expanded, and Meridian developed a military presence unrivaled in East Mississippi.[19]
Jimmy Kemp 1985–1993[20] Under Kemp's administration, the city developed nationally recognized recycling programs for household garbage and wastewater sludge. The city also adopted the Mississippi Main Street philosophy for downtown revitalization. A new public works complex, several city creek flood control projects, and the Bonita Lakes development program were put in place, and other infrastructure improvements were made.[20] To aid in downtown traffic flow, 22nd and 23rd avenues were converted to one-way streets.[21]

Twenty-first century[edit]

Mayor name Term Accomplishments
John Robert Smith 1993–2009[22] Smith oversaw many development and revitalization projects, particularly focused around downtown and inner-city neighborhoods. He helped renovate Union Station, promoted restoration of the historic Grand Opera House into the Riley Center, and spearheaded the development of a HOPE VI mixed-income housing project.[23] As mayor, Smith was known as a strong supporter of the arts. He promoted downtown development, including the construction of a parking garage in the city's Arts District to support the Riley Center and other downtown arts venues.[24] He also led the Meridian Green Initiative, a series of programs intended to support a healthy "green" environment for the city.[25]
Cheri Barry 2009–2013[26] Barry was the city's first female mayor.[26] Upon her election, Barry worked to cancel an agreement with the city and Historic Restoration Inc. (HRI) made during the previous administration to renovate the Threefoot Building into a downtown hotel.[27]

Barry, with a campaign motto of "Back to Basics",[28] focused on the city's basic services, such as garbage collection, sewage treatment, and roads.[29] The renovation of Meridian City Hall, begun under the Smith administration, was completed while Barry was in office,[30] and a new police station was built as well, something Barry said was a "priority" for her administration.[31]

Percy Bland 2013–present[32] Bland won election on June 4, 2013, and took office on July 1. He is the city's first black mayor.[32]

References[edit]

  • Ed Darling, The Meridian Star (1996). A Pictorial History of Meridian Mississippi and Surrounding Area. Marceline, Missouri: Heritage House Publishing. p. 25.  – Lists all mayors between 1869 and 1977.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Meridian, MS - About the Mayor". Official Website of Meridian, MeridianMS.org. Retrieved 2013-08-22. 
  2. ^ Jennifer Jacob Brown (March 17, 2010). "Last Phase of City Hall Renovations on Schedule". The Meridian Star. Retrieved 2010-07-21. 
  3. ^ Jennifer Jacob (June 24, 2008). "Rebuilding a Legacy: Inside the Renovation of City Hall". The Meridian Star. Retrieved 2010-07-21. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Jack Shank (1985). "Part 2, Chapter 1: 19th Century Mayors". Meridian: The Queen with a Past. Volume I. Meridian, Mississippi: Brown Printing Company. pp. 62–65. ISBN 0-9616123-1-2. 
  5. ^ a b Lindsey Key (June 24, 2009). "Dial Marker". The Meridian Star. Retrieved 2010-07-25. 
  6. ^ a b c Sheila McLain (June 24, 2009). "Dial House Marker Unveiled". Meridian, Mississippi: WTOK-TV. Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  7. ^ National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Jack Shank (1986). "Chapter 32: 20th Century Mayors, 1900–1932". Meridian: The Queen with a Past. Volume II. Meridian, Mississippi: Southeastern Printing Company. pp. 145–147. ISBN 0-9616123-2-0. 
  9. ^ Jody Cook (1979). "NRHP Inventory/Nomination: Dabney-Green House" (PDF). 
  10. ^ a b Lindsey Brown (June 25, 2009). "22nd Avenue Bridge to Soon Close". WTOK-TV. Retrieved 2010-07-22. 
  11. ^ "Community Information – History". MeridianMS.org, official website of Meridian, Mississippi. Retrieved 2010-07-22. 
  12. ^ Ida Brown (May 7, 2007). "Businessmen, family remember Henry D. Burns Sr.". The Meridian Star. Retrieved 2010-07-22. 
  13. ^ a b "Aviation pioneer dies". Rome News-Tribune. July 18, 1976. Archived from the original on January 24, 2013. Retrieved 2010-07-22.  Source actually says 1666–1974, but those don't line up with 4-years terms and other administrations. This is probably because the paper was citing dates on which he took/left office, when all other dates on the page are election dates.
  14. ^ a b "Key Becomes Mayor on Anniversary of His Record Flight". Ocala Start-Banner. July 1, 1965. Archived from the original on January 24, 2013. Retrieved 2010-07-22. 
  15. ^ a b Sheila Blackmon (November 19, 2001). "Tom Stuart, former mayor, dies". The Franklin County Times. Russellville, Alabama. Retrieved 2010-07-21. 
  16. ^ "Former Meridian mayor to celebrate 90th birthday". The Meridian Star. March 14, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-21. 
  17. ^ Sela Ward (2003). Homesick: A Memoir. HarperCollins. p. 100. ISBN 0-06-098907-6. 
  18. ^ Georgia E. Frye (July 14, 2006). "NAS Meridian celebrates 45th birthday". The Meridian Star. Retrieved 2010-07-21. 
  19. ^ Brian Livingston (March 18, 2012). "The passing of a legend". The Meridian Star. Retrieved 2012-03-23. 
  20. ^ a b "Former Meridian mayor named to National EPA Committee". The Franklin County Times. Russellville, Alabama. July 19, 2004. Retrieved 2010-07-21. 
  21. ^ "Parking, two-way streets under discussion". The Franklin County Times. Russellville, Alabama. March 14, 2002. Retrieved 2010-07-21. 
  22. ^ "John Robert Smith to head non-profit". The Meridian Star. July 31, 2009. Retrieved 2010-07-21. 
  23. ^ "John Robert Smith Named Reconnecting America President And CEO". ReconnectingAmerica. Retrieved 2010-07-21. 
  24. ^ "News: Awards for Arts Achievement". United States: Americans for the Arts. 2005. Retrieved 2010-07-21. 
  25. ^ Jocelyn Bogen (June 29, 2009). "Charleston (SC), Chapel Hill (NC) Named Most Livable Cities". United States Conference of Mayors. Retrieved 2010-07-21. 
  26. ^ a b Jennifer Jacob Brown (June 3, 2009). "Barry ready to take office". The Meridian Star. Retrieved 2010-07-22. 
  27. ^ Jennifer Jacob Brown (June 27, 2010). "Threefoot Building: Part 1 'Looking at All Our Options'". Archived from the original on July 12, 2012. Retrieved 2013-06-10. 
  28. ^ Sheena Adams-Avery (June 5, 2009). "Cheri Barry Meridian’s first woman mayor". The Impact. Retrieved 2013-06-10. 
  29. ^ Terri Ferguson Smith (February 20, 2013). "Seeking Second Term: Governor endorses Mayor Cheri Barry". The Meridian Star. Retrieved 2013-06-10. 
  30. ^ Ida Brown (February 1, 2012). "Doors of newly renovated city hall opened to the public". The Meridian Star. Retrieved 2013-06-10. 
  31. ^ Brian Livingston (May 24, 2013). "Large crowd attends police station ribbon cutting". Meridian Star. Retrieved 2013-06-10. 
  32. ^ a b Emily Lane (June 4, 2013). "Percy Bland makes history with victory in Meridian mayoral race". Clarion Ledger. Retrieved 2013-06-09. 

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