05/31/07 — Mayor King says he will seek re-election

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Mayor King says he will seek re-election

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 31, 2007 1:46 PM

Al King has been thinking about his son, Kevin, for the past few months -- not about November's election.

So when people asked him whether or not he would run for another term as Goldsboro's mayor, he had no answer -- just a few words about his "best friend" and how much he would love to retire again and hit the road with him.

King has a wife and daughter, too -- and a passion for fast cars, solo rounds on the golf course and traveling the world.

But he has put those things on hold to lead a city he loves, he said.

And Wednesday, he announced that he would keep them there.

His name will appear on the ballot.

"This has been one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make," King said. "My wife has been on my butt. She said, 'Stop. You need to run. You're the best thing for this city.' I told her I was thinking about it. And then, something happened. I realized I just can't walk away from this city."

Not when there are so many projects underway, he said.

And not when there is still work to do.

"I believe in what we're doing, like this building next door," King said, rolling his chair around and looking out at Goldsboro's original City Hall. "There are people who will come up and they will say, 'I don't understand why you're putting all that money into that building. It isn't worth it.' What are we supposed to do, bulldoze it? I don't think so. That building has served us for 100 years. It's things like that -- they make me feel like I should stick around."

It's hard to walk away from progress in motion, he added.

"We have a lot of irons in the fire, a lot of projects going on," King said. "These projects are long-term and they have taken lots of planning, thought and commitment. If I don't run, I'm turning my back on that and I won't."

And he won't turn his back on the residents who show up at his office, pleading for help with drugs and crime in their neighborhoods.

"As a rule, they don't trust government," King said. "But once they get to know you and trust you they begin to tell you things. We no longer become the city government, a big old controlling agency out there people can't trust. We become Al King, Don Chatman and so forth. They know us as individuals."

For the self-described "loner," feeling trusted and needed makes it impossible to walk away now.

"Gangs -- now that's a problem and we're going to have to deal with it. And drugs have always been a problem," King said. "One thing we're doing, when we go out into these neighborhoods, we have a lot of people out there who know things they wouldn't dare tell anybody because they fear for their lives. So we're giving them an avenue, telling them to come by or give us a call."

Because at the end of the day, the citizens are what matters -- not the money, tax revenue or fancy buildings.

"Fighting for these people, it doesn't end," King said. "As long as I sit in this chair, I guarantee there are going to be things we need to do to improve the quality of life for all our citizens. You can't just walk away from people like that."

So he will spend the next few months planning and executing his campaign -- knowing that this might be his last ride. But it doesn't phase him.

King said he knows that when his time to give up Goldsboro's high seat comes, he will be ready to embrace whatever role he is thrown into next.

"This is really not about me anymore -- I've retired twice, been all over," he said. "It's not the money. I don't need the title or any of that stuff. All I know is this is where I'm supposed to be. After the election, if I don't win, I'll know they're saying, 'Hey, you are out of here. Thanks, but we're finished with you.' Then I could walk away. I'll fly with my son, I'll get in my car and drive, I'll go play golf. But that hasn't happened yet."