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Pensacola's mayor-elect assembling transition team

City of Pensacola

After his election as Pensacola’s next mayor, D.C. Reeves is preparing for the job – in part by setting up his transition team.

“I did want to congratulate D.C. Reeves on his election as the next mayor of the city of Pensacola,” said outgoing Mayor Grover Robinson at his weekly news conference. “We certainly will be working with him as we move forward.”

Robinson pledged to conduct as smooth a transition as possible from his administration to Reeves’, adding that the mayor-elect will be a guest at the next Morning with the Mayor on Sept. 12.

“I told him at this point, I necessarily wasn't going to send him to every single question that you might have because he's still formulating what he wants to do,” said Robinson. “We will be bringing him on board with the city we're working to set up so he'll be ready to go and ready when he gets inaugurated.”

Robinson also had his review of the mayoral election involving Reeves, Jewell Cannada-Wynn, Sherri Myers, and Steve Sharp.

“Two candidates I thought were very focused on what we had done in a very positive, collaborative way,” he said. “And there were two candidates that were focused in a more anti position that we had taken. I think that shows what we've known all along, is that despite some objections here and there, the majority of the citizens are continuing to want us to move forward with things we're doing.”

“I give Mayor Robinson a lot of credit, this is not something he has to do,” said Reeves. “But as someone who cares about the city of Pensacola enough to run for mayor, to be the mayor, and then to attempt to give me the best hand off he can give, he deserves a lot of credit for that.”

Reeves, the first mayor to win a majority vote in a primary under the 2009 city charter, is also, at 38, the city’s youngest mayor-elect in more than a century. As part of the transition, he’ll be attending some of the meetings by the current mayor, including one with the Florida Department of Transportation.

“The fact that he's been very out front of ensuring that I'm in the right meetings and meeting with the right folks and that this transition goes as seamless as possible,” Reeves said. “We'll be in some of these meetings, internal meetings, external, wherever he says I'm allowed. I don't want to be a distraction, but anywhere he says I'm allowed, then I'm certainly going to be there.”

As far as the issues and topics to be addressed in the transition, Reeves doesn’t appear to be deviating from those on which he ran for office — public safety, housing, and economic development to name a few.

“And also I know we're going to have our eyes and ears really turn towards our ability to measure performance as well,” he said. “Key performance indicators are something that's always been big in the organizations I've worked, and for or the organization that I own. It’s making sure that we can really measure performance.”

Heading the transition team is retired Navy Capt. Tim Kinsella, a former commanding officer aboard Naval Air Station Pensacola. Reeves points out Kinsella was at the top of his list.

“Leading Pensacola NAS through a terrorist attack through COVID, through a hurricane [Sally], 33 years of service and all the amazing things, heroic things he's done throughout his military career. And I'm fortunate that he was willing to do that and have on our team,” Reeves said.

Kinsella, who now heads the Center for Leadership at the University of West Florida, says it’s very early in the process of getting the band together.

“Right now, it's myself and D.C. are working through the priorities what are going to be his priorities,” Kinsella said. “And then, as we understand those priorities, getting the best people that we can, that know the city, that know the community, know the citizens well.”

At this point, the transitional blueprint is divided into individual topics — called “pillars.” Kinsella says that will enable them to “dig deep” into the issues and provide more focus on them so the best ideas can rise to the surface.

“My job will be to interconnect all of those pillars where there's some cross pollination between them,” he said. “Say we talk about job creation, entrepreneurship, and the relationship with the military community here. If it's a Venn diagram that will be sort of touching there in the center.”

Reeves is starting his transition about 12 weeks before taking office. Just the opposite of Grover Robinson’s team, which began after he took office. Kinsella points to one major difference in the two.

“D.C. is the first mayor that won over 50% of the vote in the primary. So now we know he's going to be the mayor, that allowed him to start this process as soon as possible,” said Kinsella. “Whereas Grover, as you all know, had to go to a runoff. He didn't know if he was going to be the mayor or not until a very short time before taking over as the mayor.”

While it’s early, Reeves says members and additional information are expected to be finalized in the next couple of weeks.

“There is a lot of moving parts when you're going to ask a lot of folks to give their time and their effort and their energy in a very short period,” said the mayor-elect. “So we want to make sure that we're set up for success.”

And while not covered by Florida’s Sunshine Law, the transition team’s meetings will be open to the public.