The Bainbridge State College Honors Program and the Decatur County Board of Elections and Voter Registration are teaming up for a program in observance of Constitution Day on Thursday, Sept. 17, at the Charles H. Kirbo Regional Center.
A panel discussion among Mayors Edward Reynolds and Dan Ponder, former Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox and former Libertarian Party gubernatorial candidate John Monds will begin at 6:30 p.m. In addition, there will be information on voting, a quiz on the U.S. Constitution using voting touchscreen machine, a mock presidential preference election and a voter registration drive, which will be available beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Decatur County Board of Commission Chairman Dennis Brinson will start the program with a welcome. The event is free and open to the public.
Below are profiles of the four scheduled panelists.
Dan Ponder Jr.
Dan Ponder Jr., who will serve as the panel’s moderator, is currently the mayor of the City of Donalsonville, having won the seat by only three votes.
A successful businessman, Mayor Ponder owns a chain of Hardee’s restaurants throughout the Southeast and is the publisher of The Donalsonville News.
In 2003, Mayor Ponder was awarded the prestigious John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for a speech he gave in the Georgia House of Representatives, which was debating a bill to strengthen penalties for hate crime. As a Republican member from the conservative southwest corner of Georgia, then Rep. Ponder rose to speak on the bill, which the House had just voted 83-82 to shelve. His speech struck a sensitive cord with his fellow lawmakers, who gave him a standing ovation and who subsequently voted 116-49 in favor of the bill.
The Profiles in Courage Awards are presented nationally and annually to officials who have withstood strong opposition from constituents, interest groups or adversaries to follow what he or she believes is the right course of action.
Cathy Cox is the president of Young Harris College.
Her roots are in Bainbridge, where she served as an attorney, a newspaper reporter with The Post-Searchlight and this area’s state representative. Ms. Cox made history when she was elected Georgia’s Secretary of State, which made her the first woman other than school superintendent to occupy a statewide office.
She also made history when she instituted a universal electronic voting system, making Georgia the first American state to use such a system following the 2000 presidential election in which George Bush narrowly defeated Al Gore. Ms. Cox’s Office reported that bad election technology had spoiled 94,000 votes in Georgia, more than in Florida and almost double the national average.
Her foresight was a reason “Governing” magazine named her as one of its 2002 “Public Officials of the Year.” The Election Reform Information Project director said, “If you had to pick a list of five people identified with election reform – not just because of what they said but what they did – she would be on it.”
John Harvey Monds, a representative on the Libertarian Party of Georgia Executive Committee, became the first African-American candidate to be placed on the General Election Ballot for Georgia Governor in 2010.
He also made history in 2008 when he became the first Libertarian Party candidate to receive more than 1 million votes in any election in the Libertarian Party’s history. For that election, he ran for the statewide office of Public Service Commission.
In 1987, Mr. Monds earned a bachelor’s in banking and finance from Morehouse College in Atlanta. Mr. Monds has served as president of the Grady County Branch of the NAACP, is a columnist for the local newspaper, and taught teenagers about money management at Holder Park, which is now the Boys and Girls Club.
He and his wife, Dr. Kathaleena Edward Monds, have home-schooled their four children, and two of them are students at Bainbridge State College.
Edward Reynolds has followed his father’s footsteps in many ways – from being the mayor of the City of Bainbridge to being the pharmacist and owner of Bainbridge Pharmacy.
A son of the late Bill and Sug Reynolds, Mayor Reynolds was first elected to the Bainbridge City Council in 2006 and then was elected mayor in 2010.
He attended the University of Georgia in its pre-pharmacy program and then graduated with a bachelor’s in pharmacy from Auburn University.
He was chairman of the Bainbridge-Decatur County Chamber of Commerce, a 1995 graduate of Leadership Georgia and then served on Leadership Georgia Board of Trustees from 1996-98. He was named Decatur County Man of the Year in 2003.
Mayor Reynolds is married to Tonya Reynolds, who is a teacher at Hutto Middle School. They have three children: Griffin, a second-year pharmacy student at Mercer University; Hudson, a University of Georgia freshman and member of the football team; and, Mary Mercer, a sophomore at Bainbridge High School.