2014 Election Pensacola

Four observations from 2014 Pensacola City Elections

November 5, 2014

City of Pensacola voters returned all three incumbents to office – Mayor Ashton Hayward, Councilpersons Sherri Myers and Brian Spencer. Four observations can be made from the results:

Hayward has a mandate
Mayor Ashton Hayward outspent his relatively unknown challenger, Donna Clark, 4 to 1 – $134K to $31K. The cash advantage allowed him to avoid public debates with Clark, discontinue his town hall meetings and shutdown his morning sessions with the media. He won a second term with 65 percent of the votes cast – and without any ground game on election day.

Hayward again has no coattails
Two years ago, the two councilmen facing opposition – John Jerralds and Sam Hall – lost re-election despite having the mayor’s support.

Though publicly Hayward never came out against the two council members up for re-election this year, Team Hayward worked against both of them—though Myers was targeted more than Spencer.

City website Derek Cosson designed the website of Spencer’s opponent, Mark Taylor -reportedly because the mayor’s office was upset Spencer didn’t initially support Hayward in his battle to kick Varona out of the airport and questioned the wisdom of the fish hatchery at Bruce Beach. Spencer ran his campaign independent of the seventh floor of city hall and won easily.

Councilman Larry Johnson attacked Myers in council meetings and wrote emails in support of Dennis Tackett, her opponent. Tackett’s campaign was financed by several of the mayor’s supporters, including Jerry Pate, Bob Kerrigan and Dave Penzone. The father of the mayor’s intern threw a campaign fundraiser for Tackett. Their message was Tackett would work better with Hayward than Myers has.

District 2 voters didn’t care about Hayward’s feelings. Sherri Myers won re-election with 55 percent of the vote, Spencer with 65 percent.

Going into 2015, Hayward can only count on three council votes – Johnson, PC Wu and Andy Terhaar. His leadership team has managed to piss up this past year the other five at one time or another: Jewel Cannada-Wynn, Gerald Wingate, Charles Bare, Myers and Spencer. The mayor will need two of those votes to push his agenda.

Political Blunder of City Election Cycle
The firing of Council Executive Lila Cox may be the biggest political blunder in this city election cycle. Without consulting the Pensacola City Council, Mayor Hayward fired Cox and replaced her with former City Attorney Rusty Wells.

That triggered Charter Amendment 1 that gives the council power to hire its own staff. On Sunday, Mayor Hayward wrote a viewpoint for the daily newspaper asking city voters to reject the amendment.

Hayward failed to the defeat the amendment. The voters passed it with 52 percent of the vote. You can expect the city council to reach out to Dr. Cox and begin looking for its own attorney.

Charter Amendment 2 Will Keep Team Hayward in Check

The amendment that allows the mayor to be recalled passed with 75 percent of the vote. Team Hayward needs to pay very close attention because a recall vote forces the mayor to run against himself. Those who paid to keep him in office may pony up again to defeat a recall vote, but the voters may not listen.

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