By Terri Ferguson Smith / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
Vowing to continue to move the city of Meridian forward, Mayor Cheri Barry on Tuesday asked her supporters to help reelect her for a second term.
Gov. Phil Bryant made a brief appearance at Barry's campaign kick-off, offering his endorsement. Bryant told Barry's supporters that they must make sure she is re-elected for another term.
"I cannot tell you how important this election is for Meridian," Bryant said. "You are at a crossroads. I truly believe that. I believe that Meridian can go on and continue its success."
Bryant encouraged supporters to remind their friends and families to vote for Barry.
"We have great plans, the mayor and I," Bryant said. "We are working together to make sure Meridian reaches its true and full potential. Without her leadership, it will not happen."
Barry told the crowd that packed the Dentzel Carousel building that she was grateful for their help.
"It is truly an honor to serve as your mayor," Barry said. "We are here today to continue to move toward the Meridian we believe in. A Meridian with sound city financials and that puts citizens first. We're building a stronger Meridian."
Barry said she will not neglect her duties as mayor while on the campaign trail.
"I will keep focused on the job you elected me to do," Barry said. "We have a great group of volunteers who will work my campaign office, which will be open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. I am so thankful for their support. This is a team effort."
Barry said she has presided over a period of financial recovery in Meridian during a time of national recession.
"We have reshaped the budget, we have cut the cost of garbage by over half a million dollars. We have begun much-needed repairs to the water treatment system," Barry said.
Barry also noted that the City Council passed the first bond issue for paving and drainage in more than a decade. Other projects also under way are construction of a new police station and fire station, she said.
If re-elected, she pledged to expand paving and drainage improvements, increase community policing and neighborhood watches, continue to partner with the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center, continue to support the development of a Youth Sports Complex, partner with Meridian's medical industry to create a healthcare industry zone, and work with private developers to create workforce housing.
"These projects are realistic now with city government living within its means," Barry said. "New priorities, improved relationships, and better spending make a stronger Meridian. We do not need to look backward. Let's keep moving forward."
Asked to speak to what she believes are the biggest challenges facing the city of Meridian, Barry said the toughest job is going to be continuing to work on the basic services, such as streets, roads, water, sewage, fire protection, and police protection.
"We have been working on all of the above. It's going to take many, many years to correct all of the problems that we have across our nation. Four years ago when I became mayor, we were in the hardest economic times our nation had ever faced," she said. "I am so proud of the work that we have done as a community facing those challenges. We are putting a $4.5 million bond issue to work on our streets and roads. We're looking at our sewage problems, our wastewater problems. I'm getting grants and financial aid toward fixing these problems. It's about building partnerships, it's about building relationships, and it's about trust. I bring all of the above to the table."
A Meridian native, Barry has lived in her hometown all of her life, except when she attended the University of Mississippi. She graduated from UM in 1977 and began her professional career with the Lafayette County welfare system, helping children and geriatric abuse victims. She later worked with the Lauderdale County Welfare Department. A former business owner, Barry operated B.J.'s Alley, a retail clothing store. She later worked as a teacher in the Meridian Public School District, from 1998 to 2001 and she served as executive director of the Key Chapter of the American Red Cross from 2001 until 2009.
She has been married to attorney Rick Barry for 35 years and they have three children and two grandchildren.
Barry, a Republican, has three challengers: Rod Amos and Percy Bland, both running as Democrats; and William Bond Compton Jr., who is running as a Republican.
Compton ran for mayor four years ago as a Democrat.