Jobs are the issue for the first strong mayor

Better Pensacola Forum
Press Release

Poll Indicates Jobs and Public Safety Top Voters Concerns
Pensacola, FL-Pensacola’s citizens believe their next mayor should have job creation and economic growth very high
on his or her radar screen while making sure basic city responsibilities like police and fire protection and emergency
medical services remain strong. And when asked what “personal qualities” the next mayor should possess, those same
voters are looking for a mayor with a vision and financial experience who can build consensus to get things done.
Those opinions and others concerning what voters believe should be the next mayor’s focus and what that mayor’s
personal attributes should be are part of a poll on Mayoral Leadership commissioned by The Better Pensacola Forum,
a local non-partisan, non-profit organization. Barcelo & Company, a Florida-based research firm, conducted the telephone
survey of 449 registered voters in Pensacola from March 19 to March 25.

“As we enter a landmark election in Pensacola, electing our first `strong’ mayor after more than 75 years under the
council-manager form of government, we think it is important to gauge what people expect this new mayor to focus
upon and what personal characteristics they think he or she should have,” said Jerry Maygarden, executive director
of The Better Pensacola Forum. “This survey was not about asking voters about any particular candidate, but was an
attempt to ascertain what voters are looking for in a mayor and what they think that mayor should spend time on.”
Pensacola voters adopted a new city charter in 2009 and will hold the first election under that charter in November.
Under the new charter the “strong mayor” will act as the city’s chief executive and will have far broader powers than
was afforded that position under the council-manager system. Nine city council members, seven by district and two
at-large, also will be elected.

“Better Pensacola Forum is about producing reliable data to assist both candidates and voters in making the decisions
affecting our community,” said Quint Studer, the forum’s founder. “We often hear about what the community needs
or what the community wants. But I think with objective data, produced by a professional and independent outside
consultant, we can provide valid, reliable feedback to candidates and potential candidates about what voters actually
expect. We hope the ensuing campaigns will respond to the community’s concerns.”

The survey, with a 95 percent confidence factor, focused on voters who professed to vote in every election (84 percent)
or to vote “usually” (16 percent). The sample also reflected the city’s ethnic, gender and political diversity.
The Better Pensacola Forum in 2008 produced a comprehensive survey on Escambia County’s quality of life that indicated,
among other findings, that a strong majority of Escambia County’s residents believed things in the city and
county were “headed in the wrong direction.” The survey was meant as a benchmark to give residents the means to
judge the community’s progress. A second survey on the county’s quality of life will be conducted later this year.

Read Poll Results