Mayoral candidates gain endorsements

Over the past week, the two candidates for Pensacola mayor, County Commissioner Grover Robinson and Councilman Brian Spencer have picked up endorsements. On Sept. 20, Robinson announced Drew Buchanan, who placed fourth in the six-person primary with 13 percent of the vote, has endorsed his candidacy.

Today Spencer announced Rev. H.K. Matthews, a civil rights icon, has endorsed him.

Here are the press releases from the two campaigns:

Grover Robinson Campaign: Former mayoral candidate Drew Buchanan endorsed our campaign for mayor earlier today. I’m grateful for his confidence in our plan to move Pensacola forward together.

In his press release he spoke to the importance of this election:

“Pensacola will be challenged in many new ways in the coming years — by making critical decisions to safeguard our environment, by the possibility of another recession, and by the changing demographics of the city itself, which will necessitate hard decisions about growth and development. Pensacola needs a steady, experienced leader who can bring all neighborhoods and citizens to the table, not lead within a vacuum.

Today, I’m endorsing Grover Robinson for mayor because he has a proven track record of effective leadership and he is someone who I believe is prepared to collaborate, unify, and expand opportunity for all Pensacolians at this critical time.”

On the primary election night, I said Pensacola was the real winner. That’s because despite going head-to-head, each candidate contributed quality ideas that will make our community better. I was impressed with the content and ideas Drew brought forward.

While we may not have agreed on every idea or style of presentation, I do fully appreciate Drew’s passion for success in every neighborhood and his commitment to an open, transparent Pensacola. On those points, Drew and I are totally in agreement. I am very honored and humbled by his support and excited to have him as part of the team going forward.

Again, thank you Drew for your endorsement and your vote on November 6.

— Grover Robinson

Brian Spencer Campaign: Reverend H.K. Matthews is a civil rights leader, Christian minister and Korean War veteran who has been fighting for social justice for more than six decades. Today, he said he is giving his support to City Councilman Brian Spencer.

“I am announcing my endorsement and support of Councilman Brian Spencer for mayor of Pensacola. The city is facing some tough challenges. I am tired of party labels and would like to refer to a party as a “fair party.” As mayor Brian Spencer will be fair and accessible, not just to a select few, but to all of his constituents.

I have given my life to try to be fair and good to people. When I find someone of a like mind and like actions, I tend to lean in their direction. Brian Spencer is a positive leader who can bring people together from all sectors to make our city stronger, and I strongly encourage you to stand with me and vote for Brian Spencer for mayor of Pensacola.”

Spencer said that an endorsement from Rev. H. K. Matthews is one of the highest honors any candidate could receive. “I am truly humbled to be endorsed by Rev. H. K. Matthews,” he said. “His service, dedication and values have enriched our area for many years. He is an inspiration to all generations, and someone I am proud to know.”

Hawthorne Konrad (“H.K.”) Matthews was born in Snow Hill, Alabama in 1928. After experiencing racism as a young child, Matthews knew that involvement with social activism would become part of his life’s calling. He moved to Pensacola in 1955 after serving in the Korean War and was ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in 1961. At the forefront of the fight for civil rights in the 1960s and 70s, he was arrested 35 times for his political activities. During those turbulent times he pushed for non-violent solutions. He walked in the Selma march organized by Martin Luther King Jr., which is historically known as “Bloody Sunday.” The City of Pensacola named H.K. Matthews Park for him in 2006. Matthews published his autobiography, Victory After The Fall, in 2007.

Rev. H.K. Matthews says he believes that a mayor or city leader should never stand aloof from the people that he or she is destined to serve. “In my meetings with Mr. Spencer, even prior to his making a run for the city council, I’ve always found him to be open and truthful and fair,” Matthews explains. “The simple matter is, you basically hold the lives of some people—their social, economic, and religious lives—in your hands when you are in a position of authority. If those people don’t have access to you then you are not fulfilling your obligation to the public.