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Friday April 18th 2014

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Wu, Canada-Wynn to Lead Council into Future

After swearing in four new members, the new incarnation of the Pensacola City Council elected its most senior member to lead it for the next year.

“This seems awkward to announce, but the president of city council is P.C. Wu,” said City Council President P.C. Wu.

The newly seated council elected Wu on a 6-2 vote. Recently elected District 7 representative Jewel Canada-Wynn was chosen as the council’s vice-president.

This morning’s special meeting saw Canada-Wynn, Andy Terhaar (District 3), Gerald Wingate (District 5) and Charles Bare (At-Large B) sworn into office. Wu was also reseated on the council after running unopposed and winning re-election Nov. 6.

Immediately following the swearing in ceremony, the council elected its president and vice-president. Numerous council members vied for each title.

“My experience, my education qualify me for this position,” Bare told his fellow council members, throwing his name in the pool for presidency.

Bare tried for both the presidency and the vice-presidency. As did Canada-Wynn. Council members Megan Pratt and Larry B. Johnson took themselves out of the running for both positions. Councilman Brian Spencer declined consideration for presidency, but ended up losing the VP position to Canada-Wynn in a runoff.

Prior to either selection, Councilwoman Sherri Myers took issue with Wu being considered for president. She pointed to a press conference at which he stood at the side of Mayor Ashton Hayward a day before the council took a vote on the mayor’s budget.

“That conduct did not go unnoticed by the citizens and other professionals in this community,” Myers said, urging the council to choose leaders who were “forthright, honest and transparent.”

The councilwoman—who said she would be supporting Bare’s bid for presidency—also took issue with what she described as the mayor’s lobbying for both Wu and Spencer.

“Why is the mayor so interested in who presides over city council,” she said, requesting that the selection process be reworked in the future.

Newly elected Councilman Wingate asked Wu why he had not shared with the council the reasons he would want the presidency. Wu had chosen not to pitch himself as other members did.

“Councilman Wingate, I’ve been on the council since 2004,” Wu answered. “Folks know me by now.”

Following his selection, the new council president also responded to Myers. He said he had a problem with the councilwoman’s comments on his integrity.

“My father came to this country with a seventh-grade education and 25 cents in his pocket—what he left me was a good man.” he said, wrapping up his remarks with a quote from Shakespeare. “Love all, trust few and do wrong to none.”

Following the council’s business, Mayor Hayward made brief remarks. He called for unity and said it was a “great day for Pensacola.”

“We won’t always agree, and that’s ok,” Hayward said. “Healthy debate is the cornerstone of our democracy … but we also know a house divided can not stand.”