Pensacola Mayoral Candidates: Ashton Hayward
Besides other state and local races, Pensacola voters are also deciding who will serve as Mayor for the next four years.
On bringing jobs to Pensacola:
“We have to put people to work. We have to create the environment to be a business-friendly city. That’s one of my number one goals that we set out to do and I think we’ve achieved that. We’ve been very fortunate to bring UPS into Pensacola; Southwest Airlines, DeepFlex had been in the works for a little over two years. That’s a big part of my job, getting out and telling Pensacola’s story.”
On “breaking down the barriers” to the city’s success:
Sometimes we forget that what we do well as government is pick up the trash, we mow the grass we pave the roads. That’s what government does, but we need to be a city where we want people living in our city. We want businesses moving into your city. But at the government level we have to be business-friendly, and I don’t think that was always the reputation for Pensacola or Escambia County.”
On his relationship with the City Council:
“When I got into office the most important thing for me was to have a good attitude. I was a big part of changing the form of government (through a re-write of the city charter in 2009) long before I thought about running for mayor. You’re going to have a ‘hangover’ effect where people don’t really like change, and change is difficult for a lot of people. But that positive change has allowed our city to see the results they’re seeing now. You have to stay above the fray at times and you have to stand up for what you believe in at times. And that’s what I think I’ve tried to do.”
On fielding criticism on issues such as airport vendors, lawsuits over city-owned land, etc.
“I definitely think it’s part of the job. It’s also a little of the culture left over in Pensacola, where people didn’t want to see the change and the transparency. One of the things I try to do is to go above and beyond, to make sure the public knows what’s going on. That’s why we had a committee for the airport concessions. The right folks (OHM Concessions Group) are in the airport now. They won the bid.” People have alliances to other people, so sometimes they ride the fence and sometimes they make a stance and I was going to make a stance on that because we did what was right.”
On what a second Hayward administration would look like:
“We’re going to continue building those relationships in Washington D.C. and Tallahassee, to make sure we get our fair share. One of the things I’m going to focus on continually is that ‘urban core’ in downtown Pensacola. I’m a big believer if you have a dead downtown you have a dead city. A lot of people don’t understand that Pensacola’s just 39 square miles. So if you look at where we can grow, there is property downtown to continue that western growth out there towards Joe Patti’s from City Hall. Open up Government Street. But most importantly, we have to focus on the citizens, so they’re heard; the business owners that are here now and the ones we’re trying to attract.”