Ponder to enter State House District 4 race

Destin Mayor Mel Ponder has set his sights on the State House of Representatives.

Ponder is the third person to pre-file to run for the District 4 seat, which will be vacated by Rep. Matt Gaetz.

“It’s just something I feel led to do,” he said. “I’m just trying to take my beliefs and values and represent District 4.”

He described himself as a “strong conservative” and small businessman who will champion limited government, lower taxes, economic opportunity for all and family values.

Ponder, who was elected mayor in 2014, will step down early but he hasn’t set a firm date.

Ponder served on the Destin City Council from 2002 to 2006.

He is the founder and president of Business Empowered, a marketplace ministry headquartered in Destin with a mission to equip, encourage and empower individuals in their calling. He previously served as the director of regional marketing programs for the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association. Prior to that, Ponder was the executive director of Coastal Vision 3000/THE Beach in Destin.

Ponder and his wife, Mona, have three children and live in Destin.

Niceville resident Armand Izzo and Crestview’s Wayne Harris have also pre-filed to run for the District 4 seat.