Pensacola, Florida
Thursday December 14th 2017

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Mayor’s Race Could Be Tight

By Rick Outzen

The 2018 Pensacola’s mayor race could be a battle. If Mayor Ashton Hayward seeks a third term and faces either Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson or his recently retired police chief, David Alexander III, in a run-off, the mayor could find himself fighting for every undecided vote to stay in office.

The survey also revealed that Pensacola residents overwhelmingly want Mayor Hayward to hold town hall meetings in each city district with 70.1 percent for the public meetings that were a staple of the mayor’s first three years in office.

Mayor’s Race
When looking at the 402 completed surveys of likely city voters, Inweekly found that if the Mayor Hayward faced a field that included Robinson, Alexander, Councilwoman Sherri Myers, and his 2014 opponent, Donna Clark, then he would receive almost a third of the votes, if the election was today. It would be enough to have a lead heading into a run-off but insufficient to win re-election outright.

April 25-May 2 Poll

Candidate Total Votes Percentage
Ashton Hayward 131 32.6%
Grover Robinson 90 22.4%
David Alexander 64 15.9%
Undecided 52 12.9%
Sherri Myers 44 10.9%
Donna Clark 21 5.2%

 

 

This study was conducted via Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology by Political Matrix from April 25 to May 2. The numbers used were supplied by the Escambia County Supervisor of Elections Office. Only City of Pensacola households who voted at least three out of the last four elections were called. The numbers were randomized upon implementation of the study and 402 completed studies were collected.  The margin of error of the study was +/- 4.8 percent.

Mayor Hayward has not announced whether he would seek a third term, but he has been meeting with potential campaign donors. No candidates have pre-filed for the office.

Both Hayward and Robinson saw their percentages increase since the February poll, which had Hayward garner 27.9 percent of the vote and Robinson 19.8 percent. Alexander, Myers, and Clark were not included in the February poll.

Commissioner Lumon May had 18-percent of the February vote but said that he was not interested in the mayor’s race next year. The other possible candidates in the February poll, DeeDee Davis, Bubba Watson and Council President Brian Spencer, did not receive a higher percentage than the Undecideds, 9.1-percent, and were not included the latest poll.

Head-to-Head
At the suggestion of former Senate President Don Gaetz, Inweekly asked voters how the mayor would fair in a run-off with the various possible candidates.

In a head-to-head run-off between the mayor and Commissioner Robinson, Hayward would receive just 40-percent of the vote with Robinson receiving 45-percent. The remaining 14.9-percent were undecided.

The biggest surprise was how well Police Chief Alexander did against his former boss. The survey found that in the same question between Hayward and Alexander the chief held a slim lead of 41.3-percent to the mayor’s 40.8-percent, with 16-percent undecided.

With regards to Donna Clark and Pensacola City Councilwoman Sherry Myers, the survey found that Clark received 27.9-percent as opposed to Hayward’s 53.5-percent, and Myers received 32.6-percent as opposed to Hayward’s 51.8-percent of the votes.

Alexander, the city’s first African-American police chief, retired on Friday, May 5. The Pensacola native started with the department as a cadet in 1983. The mayor appointed him chief in July 2015.

He was scheduled to retire later this month because of his enrollment in the Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP). In January, Alexander told the Pensacola City Council that he was interested in staying the chief, but Mayor Hayward had already committed to promoting Assistant Police Chief Tommi Lyter.

The city charter gives the mayor the authority to select the police chief. The city council can either approve or disapprove the appointment. Lyter’s nomination is on the agenda for a vote at the council’s May 11 regular meeting.

Town Halls Wanted
Mayor Ashton Hayward began his first term in 2011 with monthly town hall meetings that he called, “Taking City Hall to the Citizens.” He held them monthly basis rotating among the city’s seven districts.  His city administrator and department heads explained city programs, and Mayor Hayward would field questions from citizens. He discontinued the town halls in December 2013.

Inweekly asked Pensacola’s most likely voters would they “like Mayor Ashton Hayward to hold and attend town hall meetings in each of the city’s seven districts at least once a year.” The vote wasn’t even close. Over 70 percent said yes with only about 12 percent in the negative.

Mayor Hayward has shown little interest in resurrecting his town halls. Inweekly plans to launch its own town hall series, “Inweekly Listening Tour,” beginning on June 1. The times and locations will be announced soon.

Stay tuned.

 

2017 Mayor’s Race – Head-to-Head
City Districts
Overall 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Ashton Hayward 40.0% 37.5% 29.6% 29.2% 46.0% 40.40% 45.40% 52.20%
Grover Robinson 45.0% 45.8% 59.3% 62.5% 49.2% 32.70% 32.30% 30.40%
Undecided 14.9% 16.7% 11.1% 8.3% 4.8% 26.80% 22.60% 17.40%
Ashton Hayward 40.8% 37.5% 35.2% 45.8% 34.9% 44.2% 40.3% 50.0%
David Alexander 41.3% 41.7% 33.3% 43.1% 52.4% 34.6% 45.2% 30.4%
Undecided 17.9% 20.8% 31.5% 11.1% 12.7% 21.2% 14.5% 19.6%
Renew City Town Halls?
City Districts
Overall 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Yes 70.1% 60.4% 74.1% 69.4% 66.7% 65.4% 79.0% 71.7%
No 11.9% 18.8% 7.4% 19.4% 9.5% 11.5% 8.1% 8.7%
Undecided 17.9% 20.8% 18.5% 11.1% 23.8% 23.1% 12.9% 19.6%

 

Read entire survey: Mayor Poll.