Republican candidate Cheri Barry officially kicked off her campaign for mayor of Meridian Wednesday. The announcement came a day after four-term mayor, John Robert Smith, announced he is not seeking another term.
Barry held her news conference at one of Meridian's oldest landmarks, the Dentzel Carousel at Highland Park.
Off the top, Barry made her intentions known. If elected, she plans to reduce taxes, improve infrastructure, increase the tax base and create competitive salaries for those who protect the city.
"In riding through the streets of Meridian, our infrastructure is crumbling underneath us," Barry said. "Our roads, our streets, they need our help and need our attention. I want to see the beauty we have. It starts with housekeeping."
And to the surprise of many, Barry picked up the support of well-known attorney, Bill Ready, Sr., a Democrat, who once ran for the same office.
"We must get away from this political bickering and just get down to who can do the best job and communicate with the people best," Ready said.
And communicating is something Barry says she has plenty of experience doing. She began her career as a social worker with the Department of Human Services, later owned her own Meridian business and also taught in the Meridian Public School System. She has served as the executive director of the Key Chapter of the American Red Cross for the last nine years.
In her speech, Barry referenced Highland Park, where the carousel is located, saying it, like the city, can be restored to the splendor she remembers from when she was younger.
"We are going to have to take things back to basics, start in the early stages, get our community picked back up and enforce ordinances," said Barry.
And now that she has taken her plans to the public, Barry plans to spend her time meeting Meridian residents and pushing her message. She is taking a leave of absence from the Red Cross, effective Mar. 1, and after that plans on being a full-time mayor.