Pensacola, Florida
Wednesday August 21st 2019


Outtakes—The End of Feudalism

By Rick Outzen

Inweekly hired Political Matrix to conduct a poll to see how satisfied city voters are with the performance of the Pensacola City Council and to see if they believe their council representative should look out for their district more than the needs of the city as a whole.

Of the 579 likely city voters polled, we found nearly three-fourths, 73 percent, were satisfied to extremely satisfied with the council’s performance so far this year. The breakdown was 41 percent satisfied, 16 percent very satisfied and 16 percent extremely satisfied. Only 10 percent were extremely unsatisfied.

Two years ago, the Pensacola Young Professional’s Quality of Life survey found that only about a third of the city residents polled, 35 percent, gave the city council a positive rating, and 24 percent gave the council a poor rating.

The turnaround appears to be due to the openness, sense of collegiality and professionalism that Mayor Grover Robinson has brought to city hall, as well as the addition of two new council members, Jared Moore and Ann Hill.

Under Mayor Ashton Hayward, the city was divided into seven feudal kingdoms, and the two at-large council seats were abolished. Those feudal lords who had King Ashton’s favor got riches for their domains. Those who didn’t were ostracized and ridiculed and their constituents punished.

It’s unfortunate that the eight years of abuse the council suffered still taints council discussions occasionally as it did at the recent strategy workshop. However, city residents don’t see Pensacola as a confederacy of districts fighting for budgetary scrapes, and they don’t want their council person to have that view either.

When asked whether they thought their city council representative should look out for their district more than the needs of the city as a whole, only 38 percent felt representing the district was the priority. A little over 42 percent felt their council person should concentrate on the city as a whole. The remaining participants, 20 percent, were undecided.

No district had half or more of its voters that approved of their council person focusing more on their district than the needs of the city as a whole. The two most district-centric districts were D2 represented by Sherri Myers (47 percent) and D5 represented by Gerald Wingate (46 percent). The most city-focused districts were D3 represented by Andy Terhaar (56 percent) and D6 represented by Ann Hill (47 percent).

The city has entered a new political era. The challenge for the council is to forget the enmity of the past and to learn how to balance the needs of the city with those of their district.