Gulfport CAO Kelly to retire June 30

Dr. John R. Kelly, City of Gulfport Chief Administrative Officer, will retire after 15 years with the city, effective June 30.

Kelly has served Gulfport, and more broadly the Coast, as a community leader committed to improving the quality of life, economic opportunities and educational access for residents. His work has resulted in the strides that have been taken, such asthe acquisition and transformation of the VA property into Centennial Plaza, planning for the Mississippi Aquarium, the impending redevelopment of the $30,000,000 Gulfport Job Corps Center in collaboration with congressional delegation and securing funds for first time home-buyers program.

He was also instrumental in securing funding for the downtown facade program and Street Scape 1, 2 and 3. He was a very vocal advocate for the establishment of the Gulfport Redevelopment Commission.

Kelly joined the city  under former Mayor Brent Warr’s administration after retiring from the Department of Defense.

During his brief tenure as Court Administrator, uncollected court fines were reduced by $4,000.000. This led to a long and impactful career as the CAO of the second largest city in Mississippi. He was instrumental in helping to rebuild the city after Hurricane Katrina along with Mayors Warr, Schloegel and the city staff beyond what was lost to what could become. After working with three mayors in the second largest city in Mississippi, Kelly is leaving a legacy.

“Having come to work here 15 years ago, on the heels of perhaps the worst natural disaster in the history of our country, the experience has been remarkable. It afforded me the opportunity to work with three talented and dedicated mayors in rebuilding our city, and that we have done and more!

“These years have allowed me to manage and work with an outstanding cast of directors, managers and deck plate employees that would measure up to any you would find anywhere in the country. One of the real benefits of my longevity here as I view it, has been working with the current and former mayors in assembling the pool of great talent that I often refer as “Team Gulfport,” said Kelly.

“There is no doubt that Gulfport is a better place because of John Kelly’s dedicated leadership,” said Mayor Billy Hewes.

“Working with three mayors over a 16-year span, Dr. Kelly’s exceptional management style has seen Gulfport through times of disaster, as well as significant growth. While his presence will be missed, it is his friendliness and measured approach to all matters that will stand as hallmarks of his career. A gentleman to the core, John has made a considerable difference in the landscape of Gulfport and the lives of our citizens.  His presence will certainly be missed around City Hall.  We wish him the best in retirement (and will be praying for Bernel)!”

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