Jackson County

After Coast police chief voted in as city manager, he says he’s retiring — again

Kenny Johnson may be back in Pascagoula as interim city manager, but not for long.

Just two weeks after city leaders voted 4 to 3 in favor of appointing the city’s longtime police chief to serve as interim city manager, Johnson informed the city of his plans to retire, effective Oct. 31.

Johnson made his intentions known in a message to city officials Monday, saying he made the decision to go forward with his retirement after a meeting with the state’s public employee’s retirement system, or PERS.

In his message, Johnson thanked the city for the years he has been “blessed” to serve the Flagship City.

His retirement announcement is one of two in the last three weeks.

Just a week before his Oct. 8 appointment to interim city manager, Johnson had announced plans to retire as police chief, effective Oct. 31.

Pascagoula needed an interim city manager to replace Ryan Frederic, who served as both the city attorney and city manager, when he abruptly announced his plans to go on medical leave.

Jennifer Colmer, councilwoman-at-large, said the city had been planning to hire a city manager by Oct. 30 and Johnson’s retirement at the end of the month wasn’t a surprise.

“We, the council, needed a temporary city manager and we appreciate Chief Johnson agreeing to so quickly to help lead our city, which he has faithfully served for so many years,” Colmer said. “His management experience and knowledge of Pascagoula has and will continue to serve us well during this transition period as we complete the interview process for a permanent city manager.”

Johnson’s retirement as police chief came as a surprise to his community of supporters.

The Sun Herald reached out to Johnson for comment, but has not heard back from him.

Though Johnson is retiring at the end of the month, the city has been interviewing candidates for the city manager job.

The city voted Oct. 9 to remove the dual role of city manager and city attorney from Frederic’s position, so if he returns he would serve only as city attorney.

Mayor Dane Maxwell told the Sun Herald in an earlier interview this month that the city had already been interviewing potential candidates to fill the city manager’s post.

Margaret Baker is an investigative reporter whose search for truth exposed corrupt sheriffs, a police chief and various jailers and led to the first prosecution of a federal hate crime for the murder of a transgendered person. She worked on the Sun Herald’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Hurricane Katrina team. When she pursues a big story, she is relentless.