'Humbled and honored': Without an election, Mel Ponder is Destin's next mayor

Matt Algarin
Mel Ponder says he believes family-based values are what make Destin a successful community. He is seen here with his sons Preston and Casey, his wife, Mona, and his daughter, Grace.

Mel Ponder will be Destin's next mayor.

"I'm extremely humbled and honored for the privilege and the opportunity of being able to serve on another level," Ponder told The Log. "My emotions are all over the board, and I don't know how I'll feel in the morning."

As the deadline to qualify passed Friday at noon, Ponder was the only candidate to throw his name into the hat to become the city's ninth mayor.

Ponder is a mortgage loan officer with Prime Lending. He also operates Business Empowerment, a Destin Christian faith-based business cooperative.

And Ponder is no newcomer to city government, having served on the city council from 2002 to 2006. This is the second consecutive mayoral election where there was only one candidate in the running.

The last contested election took place in 2006, when then Mayor Craig Barker defeated former mayor Ken Beaird.

As the outgoing mayor, Sam Seevers told The Log she is proud to see Ponder take the helm.

"Mel Ponder is a wonderful man, he is a true gentleman and is always looking for ways to make Destin better for everyone," she said.

Although he didn't have a challenger, Ponder is looking forward to the challenges ahead of him.

"I've sat in leadership roles for most of my life," he said. "I will be reaching out to former Mayor Barker and Mayor Seevers — in this case, I will be calling on them as more than friends, I will be calling on them as mentors."

"I want to press in for as much knowledge and as much information as I can for the next eight weeks."