Ric McCluskey: What’s in a Name?

Ric McCluskey

     In government, at every level, a name can mean everything. We see political legacies can lead to a person getting an appointment, a lucrative business deal, an election or even preferential treatment within the law. Rarely, do we witness the righteousness take priority over these relationships.

     Here in Mississippi, we have seen a name like “Barbour” mean more than what is “right” for the people. The people of this state have suffered at the hands of the patronage. Also, many great candidates have fell victim to not having that certain “last name” or not being a “home town” boy. This also holds true for local government. Over the past decade, the city of DIberville has grown a great deal. With that growth comes certain challenges that a mere “name” does not necessarily protect the people against. The people need a person who will protect their livelihood against outside influences. A fact that most overlook that puts places like DIberville in favorable positions in these scenarios is those “outsiders” will frequently come from a group of men and women who unquestionably possess virtues such as integrity, character and the willingness to fight. That group is the veterans of the US military who CHOOSE to make local communities their home.

     In DIberville, there is a man who’s name has been tossed around a lot lately in the anticipation that he may choose to serve the city in an official capacity. Mario Barnes is not a man that was born here in Mississippi but did move here during his childhood and then chose to come back after a decade long tenure in the Middle East as a service member then military contractor. It was during this time, he was able to gain from experiences that many are not fortunate enough to have. He learned what it meant for people to live under an expansive government but most importantly, he learned the level of commitment required to insulate the people from the bureaucratic monsters that exist.

     Upon his return to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Mario decided to start a family here. He and his wife, Elizabeth, started a family which now includes their two young sons. Along the way, they also started two very successful companies that employ local workers and are in the process of launching another. While dealing with the same every day struggles that we all deal with, Mario also jumped head first into politics. He is a former state chair for the Mississippi Libertarian Party and has been greatly involved in many causes and groups who advocate limited government throughout the state. Mario’s veteran background is never too far removed from his everyday life. He is also the Commander of the DIberville American Legion. He consistently plans and coordinates events that improves the lives of fellow veterans and charitable ventures put on by the legion. He understands “the oath” that service members take is “life long” and the dedication to service is something that never expires. As a Marine War vet, I am always searching for men like Mario to lead. Many of us place more importance on state and national elections because they are the “sexy” elections that garner all the attention. The reality is, local elections are the most important because they truly do effect our everyday lives and the city of Diberville has a phenomenal advantage with the veteran population that will step up to lead.

     I do not know what the future hold for DIberville or Mario. Will he decide to run for City Council? Will it be mayor? Or will he decide to continue his fight for freedom and the people of DIberville from the unofficial capacity that he has been in? Time will tell. I do know that if he decides to throw his name in the public arena, myself and other vets, will do what we always do. We will put our efforts into fighting for a brother who we know will fight for us.

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