Mr. Mayor

Monroe Mayor John Howard speaks to the crowd at the 2018 Hurricane Blowout.

You may recall from last year my appreciation for Furman Bisher and his Thanksgiving column.

He was the sports editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but his writing that one day allowed us a glimpse into his life. He gave thanks for all the things that mattered in his life, and I admire anyone who can show a little emotion and love to the simpler things in life.

As it was always so important to me, I hope I don’t do too much of a disservice to him by sharing my gratitude for the things that are so important in my life.

I will freely admit I wear my emotions on my sleeve, so you may already have an understanding of my love for my family and for this town. First and foremost, my family — the crazy side, which I fully inherited from my parents, Barney and Sally Howard (two of the best people you will ever meet in your entire life).

I am thankful for the altar at the Episcopal Church. If it had not been for the altar at St. Alban’s, I am not sure how my mom would have prayed me (or Rob or Baby Jane) through childhood.

I am thankful to Ed Cowan for not running me off when I first met his daughter, Julie, 23 years ago this week. She and I share thanks our daughters are hitting their strides in school. And we also share the gratitude that Sir Cracker Jack gets to stay home and look after us!

I am thankful for the neurosurgeons at Shands Teaching Hospital at the University of Florida. On April 27, I celebrated my third decade of living after a traumatic accident that could have very easily given me a much too soon meeting with my Maker. (Interesting side note: Greg Thompson’s brother was a doc in the emergency room.)

I am thankful for Debbie Kirk; there has probably never been another person who has given so much to Monroe, or is more knowledgeable about our operations, than she.

I am thankful for David Clemons allowing me to spell crepe myrtle like we do in the South.

I am thankful for the many businesses who believe in Monroe. From new restaurants to retail establishments to the expansion of our downtown, your general feelings of positivity have turned us from a sleepy, little town into a commercial corridor that is buzzing with excitement. Again, your choosing to “Buy Local,” to spend your hard-earned dollars in he Best Small Town in America continues to contribute to a thriving local economy.

I am thankful for Lisa Reynolds Anderson. Our DDA has continued to flourish due to her hard work and leadership.

Our Part I crimes are down 22% over the last 12 months. I am thankful for the amazing job done by our men and women in uniform. With a team less than half the size of Covington, their accomplishments are mind-blowing. (So thankful to Council that, during the budget process, several new officers are approved to hit the streets of Monroe in 2020).

I had a great opportunity to join our firefighters in training last week. As I said, “I do not have a newfound respect, because I already knew they were awesome! I do have a newfound appreciation …” Protecting and serving you every day throughout the year deserves thanks and prayers from all of us.

I am thankful for our customer service team. Talk about a wonderful group! They go over and above to serve you every single working day of the year.

I am forever amazed and grateful for the work done by our Public Works team! They completely refitted the lighting display at Childers Park, and they will work overtime so you can enjoy our holiday parade and other events around town. (They refitted the lighting display at Childers in 19 days, just in time for our children’s parade.)

Speaking of our Christmas parade, I am thankful for Miss Hurricane (Erica Ford), Miss Bulldog (Caroline VanSant) and Miss Warrior (Sara Hawes). They represent the best of their schools and the best of Monroe. Again this year, I will be busy directing traffic at the beginning of the route, and these ladies will represent our fair city.

I am forever grateful to be from Monroe, Georgia. Our town is really moving forward, and I am so thankful for our very bright future! Over the coming months you will see sidewalks (FINALLY) completed with lighting and street trees installed and planted, land acquisition for our truck route, more housing developments and more information about our grocery development.

I am so thankful for the many preachers, priests and pastors we have had over the last two years who have prayed for the decisions made by Council and the people of Monroe. ALSO, I admire their dedication to serving those on our town — from team chaplains to CLC to chaplains of the public safety departments.

I am thankful for Gov. Brian Kemp and Shane Short. Through the governor’s leadership, Georgia was named the Best State for Business for the seventh year in a row. Through all the business Shane has brought to our area, he is a main contributor to our business success. (HINT! More news to come very soon!)

I am thankful for the family and friends of Cy Nunnally.

I am thankful for our leadership in our public and private schools — through their hard work and high expectations, our area schools have never been better or safer. Moving to high school and middle school athletics, I so admire the coaches for spending and sacrificing so much time for our kids. The multiple roles they play (leaders, teachers, parents) in the shaping lives our young people is honorable and should be commended

I am thankful for the beaches in the Southeast. From the Panhandle to the Keys back up the East Coast all the way to the Outer Banks, the beach is where I set my sights to refresh, reflect, and get away. I really do try to make it to every event, meeting, or get-together in the city, but time away is necessary and good for the soul.

I am thankful for a faith-based community — from our pastors and their congregations to our community volunteers.

As you hit your knees over the coming days and through the Christmas season, I am asking your prayers for our leaders of faith, our public safety teams, and all those who serve the people of the city of Monroe, Walton County, the state of Georgia and these United States.

I am so thankful to be in the greatest small town in America. May your hearts be overflowing with joy and love that lasts throughout the upcoming year.



John Howard is in his first term as the mayor of Monroe. Email: