What a top Republican told MARTA CEO Keith Parker when he announced he’s leaving

The MARTA Board of Directors bids farewell to CEO Keith Parker Thursday.

Many have praised MARTA CEO Keith Parker since he announced he is leaving the agency. In his five years at MARTA, Parker is credited with shoring up the finances of an agency on the verge of insolvency, improving relations with an often-hostile General Assembly and paving the way for MARTA expansions in Atlanta and Clayton County.

But the most fulsome praise may have been delivered in private by one of Georgia’s top Republicans.

On Thursday, at his last MARTA Board of Directors meeting, Parker remembered calling Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and House Speaker David Ralston to inform them he’s leaving to become president and CEO of Goodwill of North Georgia. All praised his leadership and thanked him for his service. But it was Ralston’s words that made the biggest impression on Parker.

“He said, `When the history books are written regarding this era, Keith Parker will be prominently featured as one who changed the course of history of Georgia,” Parker said Thursday. “`The entire state is indebted to your service.’”

Parker leaves MARTA at a crucial time for the agency and for mass transit in Georgia. In addition to Atlanta and Clayton County, Fulton and DeKalb are considering MARTA expansions. And the General Assembly is openly discussing state funding for public transportation.

On Thursday the MARTA board hired a Maryland firm to lead the search for Parker’s replacement. You can read more about the high expectations for Parker’s replacement here.

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