Meet your Commissioner

District 5 - Commissioner Mel Ponder


Commissioner Mel Ponder is a leader committed to conservative values who was born in Ocala, Florida. The Commissioner won election in the Nov. 3, 2020 general election and will serve a term from 2020-2024. He is a family man, man of faith, a small business owner, Mayor of Destin from 2014 to 2016, and member of the Florida House of Representatives from 2016 to 2020. Commissioner Ponder graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance.  He has been married to his wife Mona since 1991 and has three children.

During his tenure in the State House of Representatives, Commissioner Ponder served as the Chair of the Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee, Vice Chair of the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee, and as a Deputy Majority House Whip. He was instrumental in the passage of laws concerning military education and licensure, veterans alternative treatment options, veterans treatment court, VisitFlorida/tourism, child welfare, mental healthcare, and religious freedom.

Commissioner Ponder is committed to leading the County with sound decision-making and fiscal responsibility. He is looking forward to working hard for the people and efforts under which he ran – Family, Faith, Freedom, & Forward! 

Commissioner Ponder is the owner of Business Empowered, a workplace ministry and is Government Affairs Director with the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors. In addition to his political and business work – he is heavily involved in non-profits and outreach to the community. He helped institute the Destin Week of Blessings which is an annual event that unites pastors and churches in the Destin area.

Commissioner Ponder is the Liaison to the following committees:

  • Destin Airport
  • Youth Leadership Council
  • Okaloosa Walton Transportation Planning Organization (OWTPO)
  • Growth Management
  • Building Industry Association (BIA) League of Cities
  • ECRC (formerly West Florida Regional Planning council)