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Mayor: Election Went Off Smoothly

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson said a couple of weeks ago he would be glad when the 2020 election was over. Now that he’s got his wish, he used part of his weekly news conference to share his thoughts on the vote.

The mayor began his remarks referring to the District-1 city council race between incumbent P.C. Wu and Jennifer Brahier, which is in a recount.

“I came back over the weekend, and thought I understood the correction was done,” said the mayor. “They called us to congratulate after the recount, but I understand that we have some time left for certification. But apparently, there are five outstanding ballots that may come in.”

A member of the local canvassing board, Robinson said they’ll know who will win that race by the end of this week. And he had praise for the process in Florida, adding that the state has come a long way since the 2000 presidential debacle.

“I think Florida has shown it can get things right; we obviously spent a lot of time and energy learning how to do it right after we did it wrong or had challenges in 2000,” said Robinson. “I believe very much in the system, having been a three-time canvassing board member. [Escambia Elections Supervisor] David Stafford and his team do an incredible job, and I’m sure they will get this finished and certified by Friday.”

If all newcomers win election to the city council, the mayor says there could be six members with less than two years’ experience. Case in point: the Escambia County Commission a dozen years ago.

“We had almost four new commissioners with two years of less – that’s 80% of the commission [that] was like that,” the mayor said. “I think it comes from – in 2008 – which was another period of significant change, turmoil, and challenges.”

That, he added, speaks to time.

“It’s common for electorates to experience a traumatic period like this; there are a number of people – whether it’s across county commissions or city councils across the state of Florida – it’s all the same thing,” Robinson said. “So I think it’s always a challenge when you have turmoil and change. It creates a different electorate, but we’ll see what happens going forward.”

As for the presidential election the mayor – who’s a Republican serving in a non-partisan office – observes they’re starting to take longer and longer to decide.

“To an extent, I’ve always been a believer in the Electoral College and the other parts because we are the United States – we’re not the ‘United People’ of America – we’re the United States,” said the mayor. “I can understand that each state its ability to have its own election law and procedures. I get that; I have no problem with that.”

And the mayor was asked if he’s given any thought to 2022 – when, among other offices, Florida elects a governor, U.S. senator, House members – and Pensacola selects a mayor.

“That’s a long way away,” said Robinson, chuckling. “My hope is if we continue to do a good job canvassing and creating elections that are responsible and disciplined in how they exercise in how they’re accurate and correct, that’s all that matters. Whether it’s 2022, 2024, wherever it is.”

The bottom line, as least for Mayor Grover Robinson, is that the elections — which matter to him the most — are the ones closest to home.