Jackson County

Matt McDonell says goodbye to board, and to Ocean Springs

Matt McDonnell tells the Lions Club his plans for life after politics

The Ocean Springs alderman talks about the antics of city government and his plans for life after the Board of Aldermen.
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The Ocean Springs alderman talks about the antics of city government and his plans for life after the Board of Aldermen.

Matt McDonnell, who is winding up 24 years on the Ocean Springs Board of Aldermen, is moving to Gulfport.

McDonnell slipped that bit of news in at the tail end of his “No Holds Barred” speech to the Ocean Springs Lions Club that highlighted his career (he’s OK with raising taxes as long as the residents approve) and dished about City Hall (there were leaks during executive sessions, he knows who was involved, but he’s not naming names).

“My future plans are simple, I’ve got a big responsibility to deal with at the (Coast) Coliseum and I’m going to do that and do it well,” he said. “I will be moving to the city of Gulfport, so all you real estate people out there, I’ll have a fine home for sale. So if you know somebody looking to live in the old part of town, the greatest part of town, Ward 2, my home will be for sale.”

The main reason he’s leaving, he said, is because of Ocean Springs’ high property values.

“I can cash out and have no more mortgage and have a brand-new home,” he said. “And, there’s a lot of good things happening in Gulfport.

“It’s got a good vibe going, they have a very progressive board that is getting things done. They have an aquarium coming.”

And there’s the location. He has a piece of land on the south side of Second Street.

“I’ll have a view that I probably couldn’t afford in Ocean Springs,” he said. “My backyard is going to look right out over the Sound. There are eight empty lots and they are all vacant. What do you think the odds are that all eight will sell?”

And politics?

“Billy Hewes is a friend of mine,” he said. “I said, ‘Don’t you appoint me to anything. And don’t ask to run for anything.’ I ain’t doing either one.”

Matt McDonnell’s favorites

Restaurant: Bayview Gourmet

Retailer: Minor’s Toy Store (“Some of the best constituents I ever had.”)

Most unique retailer: Ocean Springs Marine Mart

Favorite religious leader: The Rev. Michael Barnett (“I’m the furthest thing from a Baptist but if I’m on my deathbed, I want that man right there with me because I think he has direction connections with the Lord.”)

Coolest church (“I don’t frequent too many of them”): St. John’s Episcopal Church

Favorite street (tie): Cleveland Avenue and Shearwater Drive

Best view (tie): Shearwater Bridge and East Beach

Biggest accomplishments: The 2 percent food-and-beverage tax and the school bond issue

Biggest regret: Failure to annex the area along North Washington Avenue