Come November, Pensacola will have a new mayor for the first time in eight years — and only its second “strong mayor” since city voters approved a new charter in 2009.
Mayor Ashton Hayward announced Thursday that he would not seek a third term and released the following statement:
“Serving as Pensacola’s mayor for the past seven years has been the greatest honor and privilege of my life. I’ve been humbled to lead our city during a truly transformational time and to advocate for Pensacola across the state, throughout the nation, and around the world. My love for this city, for its people, for its families and neighborhoods, knows no bounds.
“But I have always believed that the best leaders are not career politicians but citizen servants. True leaders know when to step aside and make way for new voices and new ideas. After reflecting and praying with my family, I have decided not to seek a third term as mayor of Pensacola.
“I am proud beyond measure of the remarkable progress our city has made during my time in office. Nearly all of the ’20 Solutions’ I campaigned on in 2010 have been completed or are in progress. Together, we have watched our downtown undergo a renaissance and become the thriving heart of our region. We’ve worked to create a business-friendly culture and have attracted companies like ST Engineering, Southwest Airlines, UPS, and more. We’ve made our streets safer than ever, with the first murder-free year in nearly three decades last year. And we’ve built invaluable relationships in Tallahassee and Washington that have allowed us to bring a fair share of our tax dollars back here to Pensacola.
“Every one of our success has been a team effort, and I want to thank the city council, our great city employees, our business community, my friends, and supporters for everything they’ve done to help make Pensacola the thriving, vibrant city we’ve become. I will leave this job humbled and grateful for the opportunity to have served each of you.
“Most of all, I want to thank my wife An, my son Aiden, my parents, and the rest of my family for the sacrifices they have made while allowing me to serve our city. Nothing I have done would have been possible without their love and support.
“Each and every day, I have approached this job with one goal: to do the best job I can for the people of this city. For the next nine months, I will continue to do exactly that as I explore ways to best serve the people of Pensacola in the years to come. I am more excited than ever about what the future holds for our city. Together, we have laid a solid foundation for the promise that lies ahead. Pensacola is a city with the wind at its back and our potential is limitless.”
In 2010, Hayward bested three competitors to become Pensacola’s first “strong mayor” in nearly a century, and later won reelection in 2014.
So far, the only candidate in the race to succeed Hayward is Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson, who announced in October that he would run for mayor. As of December 31, Robinson has raised more than $60,000 in campaign contributions.