King retires after seven years as Petal alderman

By HASKEL BURNS,

After nearly seven years of service on the Petal Board of Aldermen – and more than three decades with the United States military – William King took his alderman-at-large seat for the last time at Tuesday night’s board meeting.

After the board meeting concluded, King announced that he would not be returning to the position and will be retiring effective Feb. 1 with the focus of spending more time with family.

“It was a tough decision,” King said. “I’ve served the country and my state and the City of Petal for many years. I’ve always had anywhere from 150 to 250 people under my direction at just about any given time, and it’s taken a toll on me, and I’m tired.

“My parents are getting older, and I’d like to spend some more time with them. My family has paid a huge price for my public service, and I love them very much. So I just want to spend more time with my family.”

King earned a criminal justice degree in law enforcement from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1993. He served in the National Guard for 32 years, where he was assigned to Joint Force Headquarters and was attached to the 184th Rear Detachment, headquartered in Hattiesburg.

Also in 1993, King graduated from the Harrison County Police Academy before starting with the Petal Police Department, where he served until 2000.

Prior to deploying with the 155th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, he was moved to the Brigade S-4 shop and served as the logistical officer throughout his deployment with Operation Iraqi Freedom 9.2 in 2009.

Rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, King served as the Director of Logistics and the Director of the Mississippi Youth Challenge Academy at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center.

King, who has two daughters with his wife, Penny, was elected to the Petal Board of Aldermen in 2013.

“I’ve really, really enjoyed it, and (retirement) has been a tough decision,” King said. “I’ve loved the jobs that God has blessed me with – I felt like that I’ve always been able to touch someone’s life in a positive manner.

“I’m very thankful for that, and I’m thankful that God has put me in this position. I’ve really enjoyed this and we’ve had a good time – we’ve had some good discussions, we’ve had some headbanging discussions. We’ve done a lot of good stuff, and I feel like things are moving for the better.”

Rather than pointing to one single thing that he achieved while on the board, King said he was proudest of being able to serve the citizens of Petal.

“I’ve always felt the need to serve, and I was born and raised in the city of Petal,” he said. “I love my city, and I think it’s the best city in the world; I really do. So just being able to serve would be my greatest accomplishment.

“I’ve been a state employee for 28 years, and I’ve been in a position of leadership almost all that time. So I just want to kind of step back, relax a little bit and see what some other options are.”

Because of state law, King is required to step down at this time to be able to collect his state retirement.

“I can’t take this position until I’ve been out for 90 days,” he said. “Now, if I’m 62 or older, then it’s a different story – I could recuse myself for 90 days and still hold my position.

“If I could stay I would. I do love serving the city of Petal – it’s been fun, it really has. But unfortunately, it and my full-time job was paying into (the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi) at the same time, so you walk away when you have to walk away.”

A special election will be held in March to determine King’s successor on the board. More details, including the election date and qualifying deadline, will soon be available on the City of Petal website.

“William, I appreciate the time and effort you put into the job,” Mayor Hal Marx told King. “One thing I’ve always thought about you is that you empathize with people, and you always try to find a way to make something happen for them that they need to happen.

“You always try to find a solution, you’ve always looked for ways to make it happen, and that’s what a good public servant is supposed to do. I appreciate your service, and I wish you well in retirement.”