“How does your city?” asked Mayor Ashton Hayward when he opened his talk yesterday at the Escambia Federated Republican Women’s Club luncheon. It was a rare public campaign appearance for the mayor who has ducked all debates during this election cycle.
Hayward said that when he took office four years ago that downtown was dead and that his goal was to create an environment where businesses thrive. “A dead downtown means a dead city,” said the mayor, who said that downtown’s turnaround has happened quicker than he thought it would.
He talked about moving up the timetable for community resource centers at Legion Field and Woodland Heights and beautifying A Street.
Hayward said that he tweaked the amphitheater at the Maritime Park to make it world class and reengineered the stormwater retention pond at the park into a lake feature. “We finished the park on time and under budget,” he told the crowd of nearly three dozen.
“It’s important to deliver results,” Hayward said, “I’ve brought about less government, less unions and less regulations.”
He talked about dealing with the city’s pension crisis, increasing the police union’s plan contributions, moving new hires to the Florida Retirement system and saving the taxpayers millions annually.
He said that he has focused on jobs. Bringing Offshore Inland and Deep Flex to the Port of Pensacola, UPS and ST Aerospace to the Pensacola International Airport. He also reduced the city ad valorem tax and cut the number of city employees.
Mayor Hayward said that another goal was to bring more state and federal dollars to the city of Pensacola. He said that he has brought over $40 million to the city – for a fish hatchery, ferry service and Project Greenshores. He talked about the money that he has gotten to deal with the stormwater problems, saying that his staff identified 70 projects after the April deluge and had completed over 30 of them.
He ended with a statement that he was similar to what he said in our interview last week.
“Ashton Hayward and An Hayward have skin the game. I fight every day for you.”