Mayor Ashton Hayward Looks Ahead
Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward recently dropped by the studio, for a chat with Dave Dunwoody to look ahead at the year in Pensacola governance.
DD: Mayor, before we look ahead to 2016, let’s look back at 2015. What do you consider to be some of the accomplishments in city government?
AH: Collaborating in the new (strong mayor) government itself, coming together and understanding the new form of government. I think we started clicking on all cylinders with the community getting behind what we’re doing as a city, and focused on economic development; focus on our downtown core – the hub that drives the city.
DD: Let’s break this down into separate issues. First, economic development.
AH: We have a new hotel going up on Main Street; the Bank of Pensacola on the corner of Main and Palafox. You think about the hatchery that’s in the design phase and hopefully will break ground by the end of ’16. All these things coming together are tremendous. Housing downtown, Mr. (Quint) Studer’s building, The Daily Convo, is coming out of the ground.
DD: Going hand-in-glove with that is tourism…
AH: I think every year since the (2010) oil spill (tourism) has gone vertical. More and more people around the country are finding out about Pensacola. And at the end of the day that was all of our goal. Our airport’s been terrific, our numbers are up over there, the highest in seven years. We’re going to be adding more flights next summer to Dallas, Kansas City and Chicago. So the word about Pensacola is out there.
DD: Charles Bare is now the President of the City Council. What do you anticipate, in working with him and other Council members?
AH: I think it’s very important that we all focus on why we’re there; we’re there to serve the citizens of Pensacola and the taxpayers and not get caught up in the weeds. Really focus on what’s going to make our community better, whether that’s recruiting businesses from Alabama; growing local businesses (and) creating the environment where people who have a business here want to stay here and grow that business. Less regulations, make it easier to do business.
DD: A proposal for a lobbyist registry is before the City Council. Would it make your jobs easier if you could keep better track of these people?
AH: Pensacola’s a small town. You can’t walk out the door without knowing someone, maybe related to them, or grew up with them. The most important thing is to let our citizens speak and talk to their government. But if someone is representing someone or consulting for them, knowing who that is.
DD: Earlier, we asked you to look back at 2015. In 2016, what would want to see done in moving the city forward?
AH: We’ve received over $35 million in grants, which is just a huge, huge win for the City of Pensacola. Obviously, Corrine Jones, the Bruce Beach Hatchery, the Living Shoreline, the Ferry Landing are big wins, as is Mobile Aerospace and its 300 jobs. We hope to be pushing dirt for that by the end of the first quarter. I think you’re going to see a different environment in Pensacola, and the cluster with the aviation is a big deal.