King has served as Transportation Commissioner since being elected in 2011. State Rep. Charles Busby has announced a run for the office next year.

Earlier this year, Southern District Transportation Commissioner Tom King, a Republican, told Y’all Politics that he had not decided on whether he would seek re-election in 2023. He said in July that he would likely make that determination in December or even January.

However, this week, King announced his decision earlier than expected, saying he will not be seeking a fourth term to the Southern District seat he has held since 2012.

According to Commissioner King, he will fulfill the remainder of his term and retire effective December 31, 2023.

“After much consideration, after talking to my family and my wife and in prayer, I have decided not to seek re-election,” said King. “It’s been an honor to serve the public. I appreciate all the support that people have given me, and I’ve always been fair. If you do what’s right, you don’t have a problem sleeping, and I feel like that’s what I’ve done throughout my career.”

Prior to his tenure as Southern District Transportation Commissioner, King served as a lawmaker for nearly 20 years in both chambers of the Capitol. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1993 and began his tenure in the Senate in 2000.

“Commissioner King has served the state well for more than 30 years of his life,” said Brad White, Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) executive director, in a release. “He has a legacy of accomplishments as a statesman and will certainly be missed at MDOT. I look forward to working with him in his last year as commissioner to, in his words, ‘keep Mississippi moving’ for the good of all Mississippians.”

State Rep. Charles Busby

State Representative Charles Busby (R), currently serving as the Mississippi House Transporation Committee Chairman, announced in August that he would be seeking the Southern District Transportation Commissioner seat in next year’s statewide election.

Given his experience in the House and in his own profession as an engineer, Busby is the odds-on favorite to replace King, at least at this juncture.

READ MORE: House Transportation Chairman Busby announces for Southern District Transportation Commissioner

In announcing his run, State Rep. Busby noted that he meant no disrespect to Commissioner King and extended his appreciation for his service to the state and the nation.  Busby cited the short qualifying period and the need to begin his campaign in earnest as a reason why he felt he could not wait on Commissioner King’s announcement of his decision to run or not in 2023.

Busby’s campaign kickoff was held in late October and was attended by mayors, city and county leaders, and lawmakers from across the Southern District.

On MDOT’s “The Extra Mile” podcast, King talked about the decision to retire and recapped his time in office, highlighting some of the most notable parts of his public service, including:

  • Serving in Vietnam as an Air Policeman in the Air Force.
  • Serving as Chairman of the Senate Highways and Transportation Committee
  • Authoring key legislation, such as:
    • Senate Bill 3181—the $300 million bond bill for highways and bridges
    • Senate Bill 3014, known as the John Paul Frerer Bicycle Act, which promotes safety for cyclists on the roadways.
    • Senate Bill 2514 that created the Mississippi Wireless Communications Commission, which ensures that the state’s emergency responders and law enforcement have the means to communicate regardless of any disaster
  • Receiving recognitions for his work, such as:
    • 2022 Friendship Oak Award by the University of Southern Mississippi
    • 2011 Mississippi Municipal League Legislator of the Year
    • 2010 Hattiesburg’s Veteran of the Year
    • 2007 American Legion Meritorious Service Award
    • 2002 Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Legislator of the Year