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Mayo Seeks to Become Pensacola's 2nd 'Strong Mayor'

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

In our final visit with candidates for Mayor of Pensacola, WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody speaks with broadcasting executive David Mayo.

While this is Mayo’s first attempt at public office, he’s a familiar face with a number of civic organizations – and as General Manager of WHBR TV33 since the station went on the air in 1986.

“There’s just, I suppose, an insatiable desire to serve, and try to make a difference in each life I can come across,” said Mayo. “Help them overcome their life’s’ challenges and their adversities, which we all have.”

The defining moment for Mayo came at age 15, when a climbing accident in Idaho left him a paraplegic.

“Facing those adversities and meeting those challenges that I had to, really shaped some of my thinking on leadership; that I was able to sort of see past obstacles and see opportunities,” Mayo said. “And so [it] just gave me a real determination and tenacity to push through self-imposed limits, and others that would  be put on you.”

Part of Mayo’s platform is to make downtown Pensacola more accessible to the physically-challenged – which he says are matters of inclusion and quality of life.

“It’s very not inclusive if folks that are physically challenged that cannot get to a restaurant; to a bathroom in a restaurant,” said Mayo. “There are steps and big giant washouts and curbs. I look forward to not only identifying those needs, but to actually make corrections.”

On the campaign’s apparent hot topic – economic development – Mayo wants a recruiting-centered approach when it comes to major companies and the talent to run them. But his greater priority and emphasis would be on the area’s small business landscape.

“Giving them incentives; trying to help them find financing, tax breaks, etc.” said Mayo. “Our local businesses want to expand [and] hire. That is the bedrock of our city, and we’ll be very business-friendly helping them expand and grow.”

The process of electing a new mayor is running parallel to Incoa Performance Minerals’ proposal to open a plant at the Port of Pensacola for the manufacture of calcium carbonate. Mayo favors hitting the pause button on the project, doing more due diligence on the company, and deciding what a good fit is for the Port.

“Do we want to go in the direction of the UWF/IHMC Center for Ocean Technologies that’s going to bring green, clean jobs – high-paying jobs in that sector of marine science and research?” asked Mayo. “Versus the industrial rock-crushing operation that Incoa will bring?”

Part of Mayo’s background is in sports. He’s a skier, triathlete, a wheelchair tennis player and founder of the Pensacola Open Wheelchair Tennis Tournament. If elected, he envisions a team effort in addressing the city’s issues -- “A collective vision to produce a collective impact.”

“Being mayor is not a one-man show,” Mayo says. “I look forward to representing the entire community, not just the ‘good ole boys,’ the downtown developers, etc. There are some smart people there that we certainly want to listen to. But let’s represent all of our community leaders and all of our neighborhoods and bring good ideas to the table and put them into motion.”

After growing up on Bayou Texar, one of the stronger planks in the David Mayo platform is safeguarding the environment in general, and water quality in particular.

“Reducing pollutants from the Carpenters Creek/Bayou Texar watershed; and we can certainly include Bayou Chico into that – both funnel into Pensacola Bay,” said Mayo. “Our water quality is not only the right thing to do to protect it and improve it; but it’s a key to our economy. That’s our beautiful uniqueness; what makes Pensacola special is our waterfront.”

David Mayo is the lone mayoral hopeful among the party of six whose candidacy is under scrutiny from Uncle Sam. Under federal law, if the on-air broadcaster running for political office stays on the air, any opposing candidate can come to the station and demand equal opportunities.

“Back when we qualified back in June, I totally removed myself from any on-air appearances, not to even get close to that line,” said Mayo. “So I’m now officially behind camera in all respects.”

If no one candidate in the mayor’s race wins a majority of the vote in the August 28 primary, the top two finishers will meet in a runoff on November 6.