Grover Robinson was sworn in as Pensacola’s 59th mayor in a ceremony in City Council chambers at midday Tuesday.
Robinson, 48, moves to City Hall from his District-4 seat on the Escambia County Commission, collecting 56 percent of the vote against City Councilman Brian Spencer on November 6. In his inaugural address, Robinson laid out his vision for the city, which he says will be a team effort.
“We have great natural assets [and] amazingly talented people; our challenge has been truly working together,” said the new Mayor. “This does not mean agreement; this is respectful support even in disagreement.”
Administering the oath of office were two of Robinson’s political mentors – former Pensacola mayor Mike Wiggins, and former Escambia County Commission chair, Marie Young. The symbolism, says Robinson, is much more important to the city’s future.
“Here we have a man and a woman – black and white – east Pensacola and west Pensacola; together installing the future of this community,” Robinson said. “For Pensacola, Escambia County, and northwest Florida – to reach its potential – we will need to work together to be a better community. To create new jobs and expand economic opportunities; to make better neighborhoods that are safer and stronger for our citizens and our children.”
Robinson emerged from a six-candidate field to succeed Mayor Ashton Hayward. But he says the ultimate winner was the City of Pensacola.
“While I happen to stand here today, it is the city that benefitted from the ideas of six great, and vastly different, candidates,” said Robinson. “While I would have preferred an easy victory, the campaign that I went through has exposed me to so many great Pensacolians that I did not know before this.”
In his outgoing remarks, City Councilman Brian Spencer paid tribute to his former opponent, thanking him for his service on the County Commission.
“And as you embark, Mayor-elect Robinson, on this chapter, I am confident that you will pursue solutions that will address Pensacola’s future challenges,” said Spencer. “And that you will continue to promote our city for the good of all citizens.”
“This has never been about Ashton Hayward; it’s really about creating the right environment for Pensacola and the inclusion,” said Mayor Ashton Hayward in his farewell address. “Pensacola’s in a great place, people. And all of you would not be here if you didn’t feel that.”
Hayward offered wishes for his successor and a reminder of his administration’s accomplishments over his eight-year tenure.
“We cut taxes by reducing the millage rate; we negotiated pension reform. We let the world know that Pensacola is open for business with ST Aerospace," Hayward told the crowd at City Hall. “We had many firsts – the first African-American woman city attorney, the first woman fire chief, the first woman port director, and the first African-American police chief.”
The bottom line, said Hayward, is that Pensacola is a destination where people want to be.
“I looked at it from a ‘big picture’ standpoint; we were the third-largest state in the Union and we were Florida,” said Hayward. “Northwest Florida had about a million-seven people west of Tallahassee. And I knew that we could become a great place; create the right environment for people who want to be here.”
Other goals for the Robinson administration include the double challenge of restoring the environment while growing jobs; and creating the amenities that make Pensacola a place to work and play. Grover Robinson — the city’s second “strong mayor” — says that will require leadership that’s committed to working with — and for — all.
“To my new [City] Council members: I am so excited about the opportunities we have to work together for this city,” said Robinson. “I do not require perfect agreement, but I do require your fullest effort. As we work together, the only thing that we need to apply the word ‘strong’ to, is to our community, and the efforts that we need to make to ensure that happens.”
Two new Council members – Jared Moore in District-4 and Ann Hill in District-6 — were also sworn in. Andy Terhaar was elected City Council President, and P.C. Wu was appointed Vice President.