Gaetz Pensacola’s next mayor?

By Duwayne Escobedo

A recent survey commissioned by Inweekly found Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward, a two-term incumbent, could be vulnerable in the 2018 election should he run a third time.

Among likely voters, Hayward garnered just 27.9 percent of the vote, setting up room for other candidates to run.

Might one of those be former Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, a Republican from Niceville? Gaetz did point out he owns property in Pensacola, runs a business in Pensacola, TLC Caregivers, and has paid taxes in Pensacola for 20 years.

“I see that Mayor Hayward is vulnerable,” Gaetz said in an exclusive interview with Inweekly. But he added he will “probably not run for mayor.”

The 69-year-old Gaetz was ousted from the Senate by term limits. However, he is staying politically active as one of the 37 appointed members to the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, which occurs every 20 years. His 22 years of public service includes being elected as an Okaloosa County school board member and Superintendent. Under his leadership, the school district rose from the middle of the pack in Florida to being recognized for having the best educational system four years in a row.

Throughout his 10 years in the Senate, his wife of 35-plus years, Vicki, was right there with him in Tallahassee by his side. Gaetz said it was “very much a partnership in politics.”

“Every time I say, ‘No,’ my wife reminds me that I run for office,” Gaetz said. “My wife says never say, ‘No.’”


6 thoughts on “Gaetz Pensacola’s next mayor?

  1. Mr. Gaetz,
    Please consider a run for ECSD Superintendent. We definitely need new leadership in that position. Escambia county’s students deserve it!
    ECSD Parent of 4

  2. I appreciate the tongue in cheek suggestion. But while I am very interested in quality leadership for Pensacola, I have zero interest in running for Mayor.
    —- Don Gaetz

  3. Hayward’s house – pretentiously named “Hayward House” in 2009 by him – is up for sale again this time at a lower $1.9 million. In 2009, he put it on the market for $2.3 million. In January, the PNJ’s real estate section had a big spread about Hayward House. Selling his house does not necessarily mean that Hayward is going to move away but perhaps he will if we all pray hard enough. In 2016, four people – three of whom were then elected officials and two former mayoral candidates – all told me that they were going to run for Mayor in 2018. Of the four, the only credible one is Sherri Myers. Everywhere I go in the city, to include when I campaigned last year in District 1, people know who Myers is, asked me about her, like her and say she is the only person on the Council who has a backbone. It would not surprise me to learn that more people know that Myers is on the Council than know the name of their own Councilmember. I would include Myers’ name in any poll asking about either Mayor or District 4.

  4. Grover would be the best choice. Lumon and Spencer are worse than the Mayor in terms of perpetuating a history of “self-enrichment” at the expense of the taxpayers.. Neither one of them has ethics or integrity to provide good public policy or transparent governance. Gaetz, is a “professional politician” that is looking for his next “power base” to continue his political career and has no record of providing administration and operation of initiatives that are needed for the “low-income and diverse” constituents of the City.

  5. Did the poll query other possible candidates? What do the numbers look like for Spencer, Grover, or Doug Bates? How about a West Side-friendly Mayor…would Lumon be a contender? Now is a good tone to see a preference poll on the Mayors office.

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