State senator sets sights on transport post

Published 6:00 pm Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Republican candidate for southerndistrict transportation commissioner is ready to cap offapproximately 18 years in the Mississippi Legislature andtransition into a new type of state leadership.

    Tom King, R-Petal, is the current District 44 senator, a post hehas held since 2000. Before that, he was in the House ofRepresentatives from 1993 to 1999.

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    In the transportation commissioner race, King faces Democraticcandidate Larry Albritton in the Nov. 8 general election. Thecurrent commissioner Wayne Brown is not seeking re-election.

    In an interview Wednesday morning, King explained that he is readyfor new things.

    “Three terms is enough,” King said of his time in the stateSenate.

    The transportation job wouldn’t be completely new to King, though.He has been chairman of the Highways and Transportation Committeefour years, and has been a member of that committee every year he’sbeen in the Senate.

    King said he consistently ranked the transportation committee ashis first or second choice every year because of its importance. Heemphasized the practical side of this experience and said the realwork of the legislature is done in committees.

    “Transportation brings jobs,” he said.

    In discussing the duties of what could be his new job, King saidthe transportation commissioners have oversight over “the entiremultimodal system.” That includes highways, bridges, railroads,port and airports.

    “Everything we do affects everyone in the state,” King of thetransportation commission.

    King said one of the primary duties of the commissioners isoverseeing the bid process for projects within their district.

    There are three transportation commissioners, one each from thenorthern central and southern districts of the state.

    King believes cooperation among the three is very significant andpledged to work toward that goal.

    “You need to have a cohesive unit on the transportationcommission,” he said. “It takes a team effort.”

    He also said the transportation commissioners must work closelywith leaders of city and county governments.

    The southern district includes 27 counties, Lincoln, Lawrence andFranklin among them. Copiah is in the central district.

    King identified work in Gulfport as among the most significantongoing projects he would oversee in the southern district.

    A connector road is being built from Interstate 10 to the portbeing restored in Gulfport, with the port expected to open in 2015,King said.

    “Every day we don’t build on that we lose business to Mobile andNew Orleans,” King said.

    King said projects throughout the state are in need of attention,though.

    “Twenty-five percent of statewide bridges need repair,” hesaid.

    With the election less than three weeks away, King keeps busy. Hesaid politics requires hard work.

    “If everyone would run for public office just once, then everyonewould always vote,” King said.