In the past two weeks we have been bombarded with challenging news on every front, bringing uncertainty into our lives faster than we can comprehend. In many cases we are alone, isolated, fearful and afraid.
We now know that the Corona Virus, COVID-19, is not a hoax, a Chinese plot, or a regular version of the seasonal flu. We know that it is highly contagious, more lethal than the flu and there is no current vaccine or treatment.
There are heroes working amongst us. It is not just the hospital workers and doctors that deserve our praise. The selfless workers in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are keeping those most vulnerable, the elderly, safe in difficult circumstances.
The stock boys and cashiers at the grocery stores are keeping our pantries full even as some hoard goods they could never use. Restaurants have adapted to the devastating order to close their dining rooms. Delivery of food, goods and services has evolved more in the past two weeks than it has in the past ten years. Even churches have had to adapt to an online presence.
Our world is changing faster than most of us could have ever imagined. The frustrating thing is the enemy is one we cannot see. It lurks and lingers in wait for the unsuspecting or unprepared. We do what we can, washing hands, covering our mouths when we cough, and learning to elbow bump.
We can do more. We can take self-isolation seriously. We can back away from a well-intentioned hug. We can think of ourselves as unaware carriers rather than victims. It is not just your health you have in your hands; it is the health of everyone with whom you have contact.
There are bright slivers of light on the horizon. Our leadership seems to finally have grasped the gravity of the situation. Needed medical supplies, masks, and personal protective equipment are promised daily. Clinical trials for treatment are underway and work on a vaccine has started.
Things will get better, hopefully sooner rather than later. Americans are up to the challenge. We can help each other while the world’s greatest minds try to figure out how to tame this invisible terror.
Under these circumstances, I have concluded that now is the time for me to resign as Mayor of Donalsonville. As painful as that is for me personally, I realize that these times call for a Mayor that lives and works in the city, that is engaged every day in the life of the community, and that is there on the front lines with those in city government.
As most of you know, my brother and I sold our company in December of 2018. My wife and I sold our house in Donalsonville several months ago, though we had moved the furniture out at the end of last Summer. We now live in Auburn, Alabama which has long been a part of our retirement plan.
Donalsonville needs a Mayor that lives and works among you. I am one that no longer lives in Donalsonville, Seminole County or even in Georgia.
It had been my hope and the hope of the City Council that I could remain until the end of my term, which is January 1, 2022. I especially wanted to remain to assist in the cleanup from Hurricane Michael, which has largely been completed.
There is never a good time to leave a place you love, that gave you a good living, helped nurture your family, and honored you with the opportunity to lead in good times and bad. However, in this case, I truly believe that Donalsonville needs a Mayor that can commit to seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day.
I currently make the two and a half hour drive each way once or twice a week. I meet with the City Manager, and others at City Hall. I sign whatever documents need signing and hold whatever meetings that are necessary to conduct the regular business of the city. But I now know that these are no longer regular times and being in town one or two days a week is no longer good enough.
I am confident that the city will be in good hands. Most of the goals I had when I was first elected have been accomplished. We have a good and experienced City Manager, an excellent City Clerk, a cohesive City Council that seeks the best course for the city. Our departments all have competent leadership.
The city is financially is good shape, especially given the impact of Hurricane Michael. There are several substantial projects either planned or underway that are significant positives for Donalsonville.
The one thing the City does not have but needs more than ever is a full-time Mayor. Unfortunately, that is something I cannot give. Only by resigning can I open the door for a new Mayor to step into the role in a way that is needed at this time. Waiting another year and a half until my term expired would be irresponsible in these current times.
While state law required my immediate resignation in order to get the special election on the ballot for May 24, I will be available in any capacity to insure an orderly transition. Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Bond will serve as Mayor until the special election is held in late May.
I have been honored to serve as your County Commission Chairman, State Representative and Mayor of Donalsonville. I hope that I have done you proud.
Dan Ponder can be reached at [email protected]