PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - Six mayors from the Pine Belt region announced their support for the re-election campaign of Mississippi Department of Transportation Southern District Commissioner Tom King.
Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker, Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee, Petal Mayor Hal Marx, Prentiss Mayor Charley Dumas, Bassfield Mayor Pat Courtney and New Augusta Mayor Joe Gallaspy released a letter of endorsement Monday during a brief announcement.
In the endorsement, the group touts King’s fair and equitable support for all communities across south Mississippi, both rural and urban.
“He strives to help each community advance its individual transportation agenda because he knows strong towns build strong regions,” the letter reads.
“Whether on the Gulf Coast, Southwest Mississippi or the Pine Belt, Tom King has shown fairness in how transportation dollars are spread around the Southern District.”
The group also called attention to the strong economic growth in south Mississippi while also laying out a vision for future progress.
“Reaching our collective potential requires proven leadership that can advance economic development through bold vision, fair and equitable investment and accountability. This begins at the Southern District Transportation Commissioner’s office. We believe Commissioner Tom King is the best choice to continue moving South Mississippi forward.”
“Furthermore, Commissioner King’s integrity and steady approach have been invaluable in recent years, particularly as many communities have had to deal with significant challenges surrounding bridge closures. He will always go to great lengths to offer assistance and guidance to local governments.”
Magee said that King has been instrumental in helping the city with transportation projects.
“He has definitely taken care of Laurel and we want to ensure that he returns to office because Laurel has some things in transportation that they want to do, some things that are already have on the table, things he has helped us with in the past and we want him to be there to continue this in the future,” Magee said.
Marx said he appreciates King’s understanding of how infrastructure helps to promote the economic growth of local areas.
“He’s got strong ties to south Mississippi, he was a business man, he knows all the business principles for managing our money and for economic development, so I couldn’t say enough reasons why Tom King deserves to be our next transportation commissioner again,” said Marx.
Barker cited the recent construction and improvements in the Hattiesburg area which heavily relied on the Southern District’s office for support.
“All that we’re seeing in Hattiesburg right now, whether it’s the replacement of the bridge from Petal to East Hardy Street into Hattiesburg, whether it’s the Evelyn Gandy Parkway improvements on I-59, whether its all the improvements around the University of Southern Mississippi, Tom King has been a friend to South Mississippi,” Barker said. “To have someone in our community who is a fighter for us, and a fighter for good infrastructure which leads to good jobs, you don’t want to let that go and so I think its important for people out there to know that six Pine Belt mayors today are putting their name on the line for Commissioner King and that’s not by accident.”
The endorsement event was held at the Petal Civic Center.