Pensacola Politics

Pensacola mayor’s silence on the future of Bayview cross bewildering

June 28, 2017

Eight days ago, Federal Judge Roger Vinson ruled that the white cross that towers over the eastern end of Pensacola’s Bayview Park was unconstitutional and needed to be removed within 30 days.

Mayor Ashton Hayward has issued no statements on what he plans to do. He’s traveled to Paris and Miami. He appeared at a Monday press conference with Gov. Rick Scott, and he spoke last night at a charity event involving the Blue Angel Foundation. But nothing on the future of the cross.

Our poll shows that three out of four Pensacola voters want the cross to remain at the park. Very few people polled had no opinion on the ruling.

District 4 County Commissioner Grover Robinson hasn’t been quiet. In a viewpoint published in the Pensacola News Journal and on NorthEscambia.Com, Robinson urges Hayward to keep the cross. He wrote, “If we truly believe in tolerance and diversity, then the cross should stay. Otherwise, are we really as open and tolerant and supportive of freedom as we say? I support the cross staying and I hope Pensacola will find a way to ensure it does for we are better when we respect than when we remove.”

The cross is in Commissioner Robinson’s district, and he has been rumored to be a candidate for Pensacola mayor in 2018.

Hayward’s dilemma is that while 76.2% of his most likely voters agree with Robinson, they are split on what the specific course of action the two-term mayor should take.

Our poll revealed that 42.8% want Mayor Hayward to appeal the ruling. He has already spent over $80K on the lawsuit. Another 33.4% want him to lease the property on which the cross is erected to a non-profit, an option mentioned in Judge Vinson’s ruling.

Hayward’s key voting block – Millennials – are split on the issue: Appeal 32% Lease 32%. His age group – Gen X – favors leasing the land (39.3%) over appealing the ruling (35.7%), but the gap is within the poll’s 4% margin of error.

The City’s most reliable voters, who rarely miss an election, heavily favor appealing. The over-65 crowd had 46.2% say appeal while 30.5% wanted Mayor Hayward to lease the site.

See poll.

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  • Burnie Thompson June 29, 2017 at 11:38 am

    I’m going to read your blog on my show today between Noon and 2 p.m. on FM Talk 103.7/AM Talk 790/CBS News. Thanks for writing it!

    • Rick Outzen June 29, 2017 at 2:50 pm

      Thanks, Burnie

  • Bill Paul June 29, 2017 at 6:34 am

    Just imagine if the US eventually became majority non-religious, and a city decided to allow an Atheist symbol to be erected in a public park and forbidding other religious symbols including a cross. Would that be okay?
    Of course not.
    So, why is it okay for a city to only allow a Cross monument in a public park that belongs to all of us? (National and public cemeteries allow all symbols.) Remember, the city lost this case because they refuse to allow other symbols.
    The Puritans came to America to escape government promoted Christianity. And the founding fathers supported separation of church and state to not just protect the rights of Jews, Muslims, and non-Christians (all of which fought for the US in our Revolutionary War), but to also protect Christianity from being co-oped by government.

    Still, folks on either side of this issue should chill and not be angry at each other. The emotional feeling of both sides do have merit. As a former Christian I understand why Christians are upset about this.
    However, the dominate religion of our county needs to step back and respect the faiths and philosophies of the rest of us. In this area, if you are not Christian, you are treated like there is something wrong with you. A bad parent. Un-American. The problem with society today.
    Non-Christian raised children like mine are always made to feel “wrong” in our public schools, subtly and not so subtly.
    Leasing the land (which should remain public as we should not give up any of the limited public land in the growing city) would be wrong (perhaps illegal) if other bids were not taken.
    Though Robinson should be smart enough to know it’s wrong to only allow one faith or beliefs symbol in a public park, it’s suicide for any local area politician to not stand up for the park cross and pander to the emotions of the Christian conservative majority. So, perhaps Hayward’s silence on the issue could be considered brave. Maybe.

  • Capt. Obvious June 28, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    And if he had come out and said he is appealing it this article would be about the mayor wasting more taxpayer dollars on appeals.

  • Qualified June 28, 2017 at 11:02 am

    Because deep down, he doesn’t want it to remain. It’s not hip or cool. How would his downtown crowd friends react to him discussing religion. How unenlightened he would appear. Plus, he doesn’t like looking at it by his house every day. Silence is acceptance.