Notes on Council meetings

The Pensacola City Council chambers were packed. Staff actually opened up the employee breakroom on the second floor to televise the ceremonies for the overflow crowd. Mayor Mike Wiggins presided over the meetings with dignity and class. The goal was for the city council to hold two meetings–one for the outgoing members and the other to swear in the new council members and elect the council president and vice president–and finish in hour so that the Ashton Hayward could be sworn in as the new mayor at noon.

Wiggins joked, “We need to stay on track and on time. However, brevity is not our strong suit.” His prediction held true because the council did not adjourn its second meeting until 12:07 p.m.

In the first meeting the outgoing mayor and council members were thanked for their service. Mayor Wiggins praised Councilwoman Diane Mack for her attention to detail and innovative ideas. Mack called her two years on the council an “educational, mind-expanding experience.” She said that she had tried to be voice for the voiceless and those with little or no power. She gave credit to Councilman Sam Hall for the new charter and changes in government. “The acorn for change was planted by Councilman Sam Hall.”

She ended her comments, “I’ll be seeing you again.”

Mayor Wiggins said that Councilwoman Jewel Cannada-Wynn had been a great deputy mayor–“no doubt about it.” He praised her for representing the entire city well and for going district to district listening to citizens.

Cannada-Wynn said, “I support my new mayor. We all want the best for this city.” She also asked for the citizens’ support when she seeks another political office (yet to be determined): “I’ll be a public servant.”

It was Deputy Mayor Cannada-Wynn that honored Mayor Wiggins with his plaque and resolution. She joked it was the first and only time she got to hold the gavel and chair the meeting.

Mayor Wiggins said that he has very positive reflections of his time on the council. He said, “The Pensacola today is very different from when I came on this board.” He listed among the changes in his tenure: airport (“Most successful from New Orleans to Jacksonville”), library system, which had a groundbreaking last Friday for the new downtown branch, Community Maritime Park, Tech Park, Sanders Beach Community Center, 100 city parks and community centers, city funds helped relocated Main St. Sewage Plant and the business renaissance of downtown Pensacola.

Wiggins thanked all seven council upon which he served, city employees and his family and friends. He asked four of his nine grandchildren who there for the ceremony to stand. “They are the reason we do what we do–to make life better for our children and grandchildren.”

Wiggins wished the new mayor success as he moves the city forward. “We are behind you with talents individually and collectively when called upon. The City of Pensacola is in good hands.”

Wiggins ended, “Being the mayor of Pensacola is the best job in the world because I represented the best citizens in the world. May God bless the City of Pensacola.”

Before adjourning his last meeting as mayor, Wiggins thanked City Manager Al Coby for his long hours on complicated, difficult issues. The first meeting adjourned at 11:33 a.m.

In press section, I tried to get PNJ’s Mark O’Brien to take bets on the council president or even if the council would end before noon. No one would take either bet.

It took about six minutes to replace the names on the vote tally board and at the seats. The second meeting started at 11:39 a.m. Brian Spencer and Sherri Myers were sworn in.

Spencer said, “It is exciting to be on the threshold of opportunity for this city.” He pledged to implement and stand behind the new mayor.

Myers said she was proud to represent District 2 which contains the city’s core business district–“uptown Pensacola.” She paraphrased John Lennon’s song “Imagine.”

“I imagine a Pensacola that is inclusive for all citizens, communities and cultures. I imagine a Pensacola without poverty. I imagine a Pensacola that fairly and equitably distributes wealth and resources. I imagine a Pensacola that is a good steward of the environment and its resources. We can more than imagine with our new form of government. Our imaginations can become realities.”

The actual vote for the council president is in my other post.