City's mayor will stay 'just Al King' in 2006
By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on January 4, 2006 1:51 PM
Al King never aspired to be mayor of Goldsboro.
In fact, he would have been satisfied living out his second retirement on a golf course or in a sports car, he said.
But when former Mayor Hal Plonk died unexpectedly in 2001, and King was approached by city councilmen and black city leaders as a possible interim mayor, he felt a sense of duty to the community he had grown to love.
"I was gonna play golf and just have a ball," he said. "When they told me they wanted me for mayor, I told them, 'man, you're crazy.'"
With his wife reminding him "nobody can do it better than you," King reluctantly made the decision to become the next leader of Goldsboro.
That was five years -- and one full term -- ago.
Tuesday, as he began the first official day of his second term as the city's leader, he reflected on 2005, a year he said was significant for the city and its residents.
"This has been an exciting year," King said. "We've had so many projects going on, and this city is really coming together in a variety of ways."
The burning of the Paramount Theater last winter; progress on the three-phase City Hall project; and a completed master plan for a revamped Stoney Creek Park are landmark events in the history of Goldsboro, he said.
"Our structures, our buildings are improving downtown," King said. "The new City Hall building and the Paramount when it's complete will help revitalize our downtown. There have been people who are upset with the costs and this and that, but once they see the new structures, they'll be pleased, I think."
King recalled bumping into a retired teacher one morning at breakfast. She approached him and revealed tremendous pride in her city, brought on by the construction of the new City Hall.
"She asked me if she could volunteer as a receptionist when it opens," he said. "And that's a great idea for this new year - to give members of the community a part in what goes on downtown."
But King said the biggest news of the year came when Seymour Johnson Air Force Base was spared by the Base Realignment and Closure commission. In the end, the base gained planes and personnel.
"Seymour Johnson is like the anchor of our community," he said. "If you lose your anchor, you're in a lot of trouble. So, we were fortunate to keep it."
King added the base has proven to be a special part of the "Wayne County family" for decades, but offered extraordinary support to the community through volunteer work this past year.
"Wherever you go, you'll find the military participating in volunteer efforts. They live with us and they want to work with us," he said. "These men have been all over the world and once they came here, they will tell you, that this place is the best."
There have been other interactions with neighbors and fellow city residents, he said, some not so pleasant.
"One woman called me a racist at an annexation hearing," King said. "But as long as the majority is happy with what I'm doing, I let that stuff go. People call me names, but it doesn't bother me one bit. I know who I am and will never, ever, allow anyone to define me."
Looking forward to a new year, King said many projects will move to the forefront of his agenda. Efforts to clean up the city and completion of building projects downtown will be among the most important.
"We need to continue to work with our inspectors to clean up our neighborhoods, and continue to invest in our downtown," he said. "If we can't show businesses and private citizens that we care enough to invest our own money, they won't want to come to Goldsboro."
Throughout his life, King said he has been called a private citizen, an airman and a mayor. However, he said, through it all, he will always be just Al King.
"When I became the mayor, people asked what they should call me. I said: 'I'm Al King. I will always be Al King. That's all I know to be.'"
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