Mayor’s poll shows citizens pleased, how about town halls in 2018?

According to the latest UWF Haas Center poll conducted for Mayor Ashton Hayward, City of Pensacola residents are generally  pleased with city services.

Based on the grading system created by the Haas Center, the increases in satisfied and very satisfied residents when compared to the 2016 study were in City Streets (3.29-3.42), Stormwater Infrastructure (3.07-3.16), Cleanliness (3.67-3.76) and Athletic Facilities (3.67-3.68).

The satisfaction grades dropped on all the other city services, except for Community Centers (3.69) and Value for Taxes Paid (3.62) which remained the same as 2016.

The biggest drops were in Communications (3.69-3.55), Sanitation Services (4.04-3.92) and City Lighting (3.60-3.48).

2014 2015 2016 2017
Fire  4.29  4.46 4.39 4.34
Sanitation  4.19  4.20  4.04  3.92
Police  3.74  3.98 4.03 4.02
City Parks  –  4.08  3.99  3.90
Rec Opportunities  –  3.96  3.77  3.75
Community Centers  –  3.96  3.69  3.69
Communications  3.30  3.27  3.69  3.55
Cleanliness  3.68  3.54  3.67  3.76
Athletic Facilities  –  3.87  3.67  3.68
City Sidewalks  –  3.28  3.35  3.31
City Streets  –  3.11  3.29  3.42
Stormwater  –  3.01  3.07  3.16
City Lighting  –  3.53  3.60  3.48
Value for Taxes  –  3.29  3.62  3.62
Public Works  3.24  –  –  –
Econ. Health  2.74  –  –  –
Codes & Ord.  3.34  –  –  –
Housing Options  3.28  –  –  –
Culture, Arts  3.96  –  –  –

According to the Haas Center, the most significant declines are Ease of Obtaining Information about City Services (Communications), Recycling, Garbage and Yard Waste Services (Sanitation Services), and City Lighting. The most significant increase was in City Streets.

The grades were significantly higher than the Political Matrix poll conducted for Inweekly last month.

Political Matrix Haas Center
Fire  4.04 4.34
Police  3.63 4.02
Sanitation  3.56  3.92
City Parks  3.51  3.90
Community Centers  3.26  3.69
Athletic Facilities  3.25  3.68
Rec Opportunities  3.17  3.75
Cleanliness  3.13  3.76
Communications  3.04  3.55
City Streets  3.03  3.42
City Sidewalks  2.90  3.31
Stormwater  2.57  3.16

The Political Matrix conducted its study via Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology. The numbers used, landline and cellular, were supplied by the Escambia County Supervisor of Elections Office. Only households who voted at least three out of the last four elections were called.  The survey had 500 respondents.

The Haas Center used the available phone numbers from census tracts inside the city limits. In total, 532 people completed the entire questionnaire.

To supplement phone calls, survey researchers conducted in-person or intercept surveys. Haas Center staff directly approached people in public places that fell within the City limits. Data was collected at major events, including: the Greater Gulf Coast Arts Festival, Barktoberfest and Veterans Day Parade.

This year the Haas Center paid more attention to the City Districts. However, the distribution of the respondents was different than The Political Matrix survey because  census tracts aren’t the same as the voter rolls.

Pensacola Haas Center Political Matrix
District  Census Tracts Voter Rolls
1 12.7% 14.7%
2 14.9% 13.8%
3 14.6% 15.8%
4 14.3% 15.8%
5 14.5% 14.2%
6 14.4% 14.1%
7 14.6% 11.6%

The most active voters are also older and tend to be more engaged, which also created different responses.

UWF Hass Center Political Matrix
  2016 2017 2017
Right Direction 69.3% 76.7% 41.8%
Wrong Direction 8.6% 11.3% 27.8%
Not Sure 21.4% 11.1% 21.9%
No Response 0.9% 1.1% 8.2%


In the press release, Mayor Ashton Hayward said, “The fact that three out of four residents say that we are on the right track is strong confirmation that the energy and resources that are being invested in Pensacola are in line with the direction that our community wants to go.”

With such confidence that city residents believe his administration is on the right track, it’s difficult to understand why Mayor Hayward has been afraid to hold town hall meetings. The last one was in December 2013.

Based on the turnouts for town halls held by Escambia County commissioners Doug Underhill, Lumon May and Grover Robinson, whose districts include city residents, by the Studer Community Institute and its CivicCon initiative, by Council member Sherri Myers and Emerald Coastkeepers, by Congressman Matt Gaetz and by Inweekly and “Pensacola Speaks,” Pensacola residents want to be heard.

Plus, the Haas Center study shows citizens want better communications from city hall.

Armed with the study, Mayor Hayward should relaunch his “Taking City Hall to the Citizens” town halls and receive face-to-face validation on how the citizens feel about city services and hear suggestions for improvement.


5 thoughts on “Mayor’s poll shows citizens pleased, how about town halls in 2018?

  1. Anon,
    But town hall meetings are working. They are well attended. People want meet their officials face-to-face. They want to ask questions and be engaged. Inweekly hosted three at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, Amos Performance Center at PSC and the old Suntrust building. The county commission town halls have had packed rooms, too. The Studer Community Institute’s Civicon have worked well as have the town halls that Sherri Myers has held regarding Carpenter’s Creek.

    Anon, we took it a step further last spring. We polled city voters and 70.1 percent said they wanted town hall meetings in their districts on a regular basis.


  2. Public meetings were the key to the democracy before the telephone, internet, etc. Just because it has been in the past doesn’t mean it still is.

  3. How did the people doing the survey know to just call the PYP’s. I really don’t think that is reflective of the citizens of Pensacola.

  4. Anon,

    Your description doesn’t reflect what we see here. The town halls held by all the groups I mentioned are well attended, sometimes overflow crowds. They are much more than bitch sessions. People want to talk with the politicians and government officials face-to-face. They want a dialogue – not sterile, sometimes faceless social media interactions with people who may not be who they claim to be.

    Politicians should not fear the people they serve. Public meetings are key to our democracy.

  5. Why are you so hung up on something that was almost 10 years ago?

    With Facebook, Twitter, etc, there are more effective ways to communicate than by town halls. With town halls all you get is the vocal few who want to complain. Rarely does a happy, satisfied person go to a twin hall. So what’s the use in wasting time with a few people who are complaining, and would complain about anything (for example see previous articles related to number of twitter followers) when the majority of the city thinks things are going in the right direction?

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