After a career spanning more than 30 years in the Mississippi Legislature, including the House of Representatives and Senate, along with a stint as the Southern District Transportation Commission for the Mississippi Department of Transportation, there isn’t much Tom King doesn’t. I’ve done. seen in his political endeavors.
King will soon pass that experience on to someone else, after announcing his retirement on November 16 from MDOT. An election will be held next year to replace his position as commissioner.
“I’m 31 years old (in political office) and I think three terms (as transportation commissioner) is enough,” King said. “I’m ready to retire and move on and let someone else take my position and do what they have to do on the job as commissioner.
“My wife and I are going to be traveling a bit, and my wife is very excited about it. I was in the Legislature for 19 years, and next year will be the 12th year that I have been a commissioner. So (my wife) is ready for me to come home too.”
King was born in Hattiesburg and graduated from Petal High School and the University of Southern Mississippi, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in 1973. He served in the United States Air Force as an air policeman in the Vietnam War and has been associated with the Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
King was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1993, a position he held until 1999. He was elected to the Mississippi Senate in 2000.
As chairman of the Senate Highways and Transportation Committee, King wrote resolutions honoring the accomplishments of people in his district and state, most notably Senate Bill 3181, the $300 million highway and bridge bond bill, and Senate Bill 3014, known as the John Paul Frerer Bicycle Act, which promotes bicyclist safety on the roads.
He also authored Senate Bill 2514, which created the Mississippi Wireless Communications Commission, which ensures that state law enforcement and emergency services have the means to communicate regardless of any disaster that may strike.
“I’m very proud of any bills I’ve passed, and I certainly honor the people who have died: soldiers, law enforcement officers and others,” King said. “We had a million dollar bond bill that was authorized for transportation.
“I think it was in 2010, we didn’t have any way to communicate with people where law enforcement and first responders could keep in touch in any type of inclement weather, like a hurricane for example. Back then, there was no way you could talk to them; there was a problem with communication between law enforcement and first responders in different counties and cities. So we rectified that and fixed it with legislation.”
King has received several accolades throughout his career, including the University of Southern Mississippi’s 2022 Oak of Friendship Award, the 2011 Mississippi Municipal League Legislator of the Year, the 2010 Hattiesburg Veteran of the Year Award, the to the American Legion Meritorious Service in 2007 and the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Legislator of the Year in 2002.
“I was there in the Legislature for 19 years and, of course, nothing gets passed in the Legislature without help; it takes a team effort,” King said. “And that’s working with people on both sides of the aisle, and working with the public and asking for some of the bills that you’ve offered that hopefully you can pass.
“It just takes teamwork, and I’ve always felt that an individual can’t pass a bill by themselves; need help. With the work of the commission, it is a great honor to serve the public and to have the public’s trust in you, and I have always believed in doing what is right and fair. You can never go wrong doing that; That has always been my philosophy in the Legislature and on the commission.”
King currently lives in Hattiesburg with his wife Susan, with whom he has two children and two grandchildren.
“He really has (done a lot for Petal),” Petal Mayor Tony Ducker said. “What a great career of service, and what a great wisdom of knowledge.
“He really has been a great friend to Petal City. He helped us turn off the lights on (Evelyn) Gandy (Parkway) and Byrd Boulevard; some of these things just wouldn’t have happened without him.”