Jim King

For the last 5 1/2 years, Jim King has been the face of Buckhead’s neighborhoods.

On Nov. 14, King announced he is stepping aside from his role as Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods chairman. Tom Tidwell, a member of the West Paces/Northside Neighborhood Association, will take over that role. King will remain as vice chairman, “temporarily.”

King said he’d been considering giving up the post for some time, but some recent developments in his personal life pushed him toward the exit. He needs more time so he can take care of a family member.

“My life’s gotten kind of complicated and I’m not going to be seeking reelection,” he said at the Nov. 14 meeting.

King, who also serves as president of the Chastain Park Civic Association, founded the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods along with North Buckhead Civic Association President Gordon Certain. BCN has become one of Buckhead’s most influential groups, drawing civic leaders to its monthly meetings.

Tidwell recently ran for Atlanta Board of Education but didn’t get enough votes to make it to the Dec. 3 runoff. The new BCN chairman said few people appreciate how hard King worked on behalf of the neighborhoods.

“I think Jim has been instrumental in both creating, forming Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods and keeping it going,” Tidwell said. “He has put in an incredible amount of time, both with BCN and the Chastain Park Neighborhood Association and all that entails. I don’t think people realize how hard he works at, basically, a volunteer position. He’s one of those visionaries that created something that we needed and has done an unbelievably great job at making it a success.”

King is originally from Long Island, N.Y. and moved to Atlanta in 1986, after graduating from the University of Georgia in 1985. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from UGA, and two masters’ degrees, one in science and international affairs from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a master’s of public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He has three children.

King holds strong opinions about Buckhead and once suggested it should become its own county, independent of Fulton County and the city of Atlanta. He’s run the BCN meetings in an inclusive way. He was in favor of allowing Loring Heights, which straddles Atlanta’s south Buckhead and West Midtown communities, to join BCN when other members against it. He’s also worked to bring a citywide (but still Buckhead-centric) perspective to the BCN meetings. King has kept meetings under control and on point, reigning in some of the group’s rowdier members during heated debates about the city’s schools, taxes and transportation needs.

King has often been discussed as a possible candidate for the state Legislature or Atlanta City Council. He ran for state Senate in 2000 and state house in 2004, losing to state Rep. Ed Lindsey in the Republican primary runoff election. For the last few months he’s been quietly dialing back his public presence so he can deal with issues in his private life.

Certain said King’s ties to the political world made the BCN a relevant organization in the community.

“He never missed a meeting during five years,” Certain said. “He arranged the speakers. He has amazing contacts with a variety of public figures and has gotten them involved, ranging from local nonprofits such as the Buckhead Heritage Society up to congressmen, to representatives of congressmen, GDOT, the mayor – a whole range of political figures.”

District 8 Atlanta City Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean said King strengthened the relationship between city government and the neighborhoods.

“Jim has a long history of being a passionate advocate for neighborhoods,” Adrean said. “I think he spent all his time in community service. He’s done a great job of getting a lot of elected officials before the BCN, so BCN can get to know city officials and other elected officials to help empower neighborhoods.”

King said he has no immediate plans to step down as president of the Chastain Park Civic Association. He said several vice presidents who have lightened the workload for him.

He said the recent events in his personal life have caused him to reprioritize some things. In politics, as in life, timing is everything. He said he’s ready to let someone else head up the organization he helped create while he watches from the sidelines.

“It’s time for somebody else to lead,” King said.

–          Staff Writer Melissa Weinman contributed to this report.