Johnson and Kinder vying for CVB board opening

So far, two people have applied for an open seat on the board of the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Outgoing board member Sonic Johnson asked to be reappointed, and Fred Kinder also applied for the position.

Johnson was appointed in March 2020 to serve the remainder of General Thomas “Tango” Moore’s term following Moore’s resignation.

Johnson is a 37-year Air Force veteran, who retired in 2019. For 15 years, he served as chief of public affairs at Columbus Air Force Base.

“I’ve worked with CVB for 20 years,” he told The Dispatch on Thursday afternoon. “I see it’s an incredible organization and I see its value. I came on board because I want to serve the community and stay connected after I retire. I have lived in Columbus longer than I have lived anywhere in my life.

Johnson said he wanted to increase CVB’s transparency and relationships with all levels of the community.

“I want to increase understanding and transparency of this organization and what it does,” he said. “I want to increase harmony with the city, the county, the (Golden Triangle Development LINK), with everyone.”

Johnson, during his tenure with the ACBA, helped organize the 2001 and 2003 Wings Over Columbus Air Shows. He is currently co-owner of Healthy Home Solutions.

Kinder told The Dispatch he applied because he wanted to help expand CVB’s focus beyond festivals.

“I enjoy festivals, but I think we need to look for more sporting events,” he said. “The Magnolia Tennis Club used to have a Southeast tournament here, and it brought people from Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky.”

He said he thinks the organization needs to tackle football, softball, Dizzy Dean and even fishing tournaments.

“These are people who spend two or three days in a hotel and eat in a restaurant,” he said. “These people have money. I just think we’re not doing enough (recruiting sports tournaments). I think that goal needs to change a bit.

Kinder has served on numerous local boards, including for the Columbus Arts Council, Community Theater, Mississippi Theater Association, and Friends of the Library. He is also a member of the Lee Home Foundation. He was treasurer of Camp Rising Sun for 19 years.

Johnson’s term expires Oct. 1. This seat is the only seat jointly appointed by the chairman of the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors and the mayor of Columbus.

The city and county appoint four members each to fill the nine-member council.

Brian Jones is the local government reporter for Columbus and Lowndes County.

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