Staehling to leave City Hall at end of year

Director of Administration David Staehling, who has spent much of his career working with A.J. Holloway, has told the mayor that he plans to retire at the end of the year.

As director of administration, Staehling has served as principal adviser to the mayor and City Council on issues involving finance, contracts, human resources, purchasing, information systems, budget and the port division.

He has also helped oversee the city’s $600 million Katrina recovery budget, which comprises federal, state, and local funds.

David Staehling“David has been a close friend and adviser to me going back a lot of years,” Holloway said of his longest-serving city department head. “We’ve worked in the banking business, the restaurant business, and he’s been with me working for the city for 20 years. I’m going to miss seeing him every day, but he has done a great job for me and for the people of Biloxi.”

Staehling has worked for the city for nearly 25 years in all, dating back to the administration of Mayor Gerald Blessey in the 1980s, when he helped create and later led the Greater Biloxi Economic Development Foundation, which was the primary economic development arm of the city at that time.

Under Mayor Holloway in the 1990s, Staehling’s Community Development Department oversaw the successful arrival of the legalized casino industry in Biloxi. In its formative years, the industry of nearly a dozen casinos sparked nearly $5 billion in construction, 15,000 direct jobs and thousands of new hotel rooms. At the same time, the city was being nationally recognized for its efforts in historic restoration and public housing, and for its low cost of living for residents and affordability for visitors.

“I’ve had a great relationship with Mayor Holloway on a professional and personal level,” Staehling said. “There’s an understanding of what our expectations are of each other, and I’ve respected him since the day I met him back in 1971, right out of college.”

Before joining the city, Staehling worked in banking, mortgage banking and economic development. During that time, he was a department head and independent contractor with the FDIC for three years, and was a certified SBA underwriter. In 1980, the Biloxi Jaycees named him Biloxi’s outstanding young man. Staehling purchased Mary’s Drive Inn from Holloway in the 1970s and the Staehling family operated the small neighborhood diner for more than 25 years.

Staehling is currently serving on the board of trustees for Biloxi Regional Medical Center. He is a two-time president of Gulf Regional Planning Commission, and a three-term president of the South Mississippi Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse. He also volunteered for more than 20 consecutive years as a coach for Little League and Babe Ruth teams at Todd Migues and Lee Street ball parks.

Staehling, a Biloxi native, graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a B.S. in business administration, majoring in economics. He and his wife, Karen, who retired from Keesler Medical Center four years ago, have four sons and five grandchildren.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my work with the city,” Staehling said. “However, I’m at a point in life where my children are spread out over three states, from Texas to North Carolina, and Karen and I want to spend time visiting our children and grandchildren.”

The mayor said he plans to have a new director of administration in place before Staehling’s departure in December.