The Pensacola Young Professionals released on today their 2016 Quality of Life Survey. The news for Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward wasn’t as positive as it has been in the past.
More residents believed that Escambia County was on the right track (51 percent) than believed the City of Pensacola was headed in the right direction (45 percent). Both trends were down from 2015, with the county dropping 10 points and the city falling 25 points. This was the first time the positive attitude towards the direction of the city fell below 50 percent since Mayor Ashton Hayward took office in 2011.
In previous years, the mayor has taken pride in the Quality of Life Survey results. The PYP brochure on the annual results almost looked like a campaign piece for the mayor. In his viewpoint published in the Pensacola News Journal at the beginning of the year, Mayor Hayward touted his ratings.
Mayor Hayward wrote, “We are clearly on the right path. Our challenge for 2016 is to sustain that confidence and leverage it for the benefit of everyone in Pensacola.”
Unfortunately, he has not sustained that level of confidence. The majority of voters no longer believe Hayward has the City of Pensacola headed in the right direction. The 2016 percentage, 45 percent, was the lowest since 2009 when only 30 percent believed the city was on the right track. Later that year, city voters passed the new charter establishing a strong mayor.
Mayor Hayward’s job approval rating also dropped. Only one out of three people surveyed believed the mayor was doing an excellent or good job. His approval rating was cut nearly in half, falling 32-percentage points since the summer of 2015. From 2011-2015, the average percentage of those who felt the mayor was doing a poor job was only 5.8 percent. In 2016, 23 percent gave him a poor rating, a four-fold jump.
The survey is available online. We will analyze the data more after we get out his week’s issue.
Jon Pytynia, PYP’s VP of Community Development, will be my guest on “Pensacola Speaks” this afternoon at 5:10 pm.