Here are the portions from the Oct. 21 interview with Ashton Hayward that we didn’t have space to include in the issue:
IN: Do you see at least part of the mayor’s race being a generational battle?
I do because that is the culture we’ve had in Pensacola. Pay your dues and then you can do X. Well what ever happened to taking a risk moving away from Pensacola so that you can broaden your horizons and coming back to the city you love and immediately insert yourself into a community in business and philanthropic way.
IN: Both you and Wiggins have in your platforms a code of ethics. How would you have handled the Rusty Wells email incident differently than Wiggins?
The CEO is the leader of the company. You can’t have a chavalier attitude. Every case is different. If this employee had a history of such behavior, you need to look at that. Many people in the corporate world who did similar things as Mr. Wells were suspended without pay or fired. He needed to be suspended with pay. Susan Woolf is capable of managing his workload for a week.
IN: The big focus is on the fire fighters doing two jobs while on duty.
I can promise if I’m elected mayor that won’t happen. If you are on the taxpayer’s dime and the taxpayer’s time, you will be working for the city. You want a second job don’t it while you are on the taxpayer’s dime and the taxpayer’s time. If you do, you will be disciplined accordingly.
IN: There seems to be a double standard in how senior staff is treated in city hall and those in fire and police departments. Do you agree?
We need to change in the culture in our city hall. We need to eliminate this feeling of us vs. them between city hall and the police and fire fighters. This is an issue we need to address immediately.
IN: What will be the benchmarks by which we can measure you by after you’re elected?
Mayor will need to control perception and set the right expectation. You are going to see transparency at City Hall immediately.
IN: Is that an issue?
It’s the number thing I hear from the citizens. What are y’all spending money on? I can’t find where the budget is.
We need to create a web portal that is 21st century that tells the citizens when there will be road or parks & recreation improvements; when are new businesses moving to town; celebrate the wins of the businesses already in town.
As mayor, I will be engaged. I will have town hall meetings once a month. I want to have press conferences once a month or more. Just because we’re a small town, we don’t have to act like a big town.
IN: Come on, give me some concrete benchmarks
You need to get our arms around the budget. We need to cut costs and figure how we’re going to manage that pension immediately. Whoever I hire for city hall going forward will be placed into a 401k plan. We will look at early retirement, early buy-out.
We are looking at changing all our vehicles to natural gas. We do own a natural gas company. Every building the city builds going forward needs to be LEED certified.
We will start tackling the problems that we have been hearing about for years, especially the Port. Is it going to be mixed-use? Is it going to be a port? Is it going to be a research center?
What if we worked with the oil companies? We could be great facility to address oil spills in the gulf. We need to think outside the box. We need to proactive, not reactive.
IN: Tell us about the downtown Rotary forum that you skipped. The initial reaction was that you were afraid to debate Mike.
(Laughing) I’m not afraid to debate Mike. In the primary, all the candidates were in forums. I think it was 10. but I don’t remember the exact number. My goal was make it out of the primary to the general. After that, I knew I had to act strategically different from the primary because now the goal is winning.
So do I go to a forum that controls 2000-3000 votes or do I go to Downtown Rotary that has maybe 40 votes? The people in Downtown Rotary are fine people, some of my very good friends. I respect all of them.
After I am elected mayor, I would love to talk to that Rotary all the time. However, this election is about winning, being business-minded, being strategic. I had to be strategic in my decision-making. And I made that perfectly clear to the gentleman that set up that debate.
I think it’s a non-issue now. They understand my decision. Listen I debated Mike Wiggins many a time, that’s the least of my worries.
IN: Tell us about your transition, if you’re elected.
I think we have some good people at the city. I need to sit down with every department head and find what they are doing to make our city better. We will do a nationwide search, but I am to seeing who we have in this city, this region who can help. I will have my transition team in place to help