In our next visit with those running for Pensacola Mayor, WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody sat down with City Councilman Brian Spencer – the sixth and final piece of the candidate puzzle.
Spencer announced his decision in mid-June not to run for re-election to the Council’s District-6 seat after serving for eight years. Ten days later, he qualified for the Mayor’s race, which was thrown open by Ashton Hayward’s decision not to seek a third term.
“I originally left the City Council not expecting to come back,” Spencer said. “And watched the [mayoral] race develop along with the slate of candidates.”
But what if Hayward had decided to seek a third term?
“No, I would not have,” said Spencer. “Mayor Hayward would have continued the progress, advancing Pensacola, promoting Pensacola in a way that has been advantageous for our city.”
When it comes to the Mayor and Council’s accomplishments during Hayward’s two terms, Spencer says he’s “very satisfied.”
“However, I knew there was much more progress ahead,” said Spencer. “And felt very confident that I could continue to pursue some of those goals and lead the way to accomplish what had not yet been accomplished while I was on Council.”
Such as: making decisions on the redevelopment of certain land parcels. Spencer wants to import and utilize some solutions from other cities, to incentivize developers to take risks, which in turn could provide additional tax revenues.
Spencer is the lone City Council member seeking the mayor’s chair, and he feels that’s something he can bring to the table that the other five candidates cannot.
“As mayor, I will walk into that city council chambers – which I do intend to do on a very regular basis, with working knowledge and experience and familiarity with at least five of the current seven council members,” Spencer says. “And I believe that’s advantageous.”
One of the criticisms of the City Council the past few years is that it’s become too contentious.
“Some of the contentious climate, I think, can also be immediately quelled or greatly minimized by me as mayor, maintaining a constant flow of communication with council members and citizens,” says Spencer.
The City Council voted earlier this month to allow Mayor Hayward to begin talks with Incoa Performance Minerals, on a proposed calcium carbonate plant at the Port of Pensacola. It was approved unanimously, but Spencer points to those taking part in an ongoing study of the Port’s use.
“We owed them the respect of at least allowing the completion of that study,”
Spencer contends. “Many citizens devoted their time participating in workshops. And this lease preceded the completion of the study. What I had hoped would be that the pause button would be pressed.”
One of the common threads running through all mayoral campaigns is economic development. While that also applies to Spencer, he adds that public safety is at or near the top of the agenda for Pensacola residents.
“Their perception of safety in their neighborhoods plays a significant role in their decisions about staying in a neighborhood and reinforces their decision to invest.”
Brian Spencer is an architect by training. When asked how he would apply his professional skills and experience to the Mayor’s office, he began his answer with one word: imagination.
“Obviously, as an architect we’re expected to not only imagine, but to develop creative solutions,” Spencer says. “I also think I bring to this office how to be flexible, and how to work within a budget.”
If none of the half-dozen candidates in the Pensacola mayor’s race receives a majority of the vote in the August 28 primary, the two top finishers will meet in the November 6 general election.