Earlier this month, as Pensacola mayor Ashton Hayward marked five years in office, he sat down with The Pulse‘s Drew Buchanan for a look back at his time as Pensacola’s first strong mayor and to talk about his plans for the rest of his term.
In part two of our multi-part series, Hayward talks about the controversy over his attendance — or lack thereof — at city council meetings.
Pensacola’s 2010 city charter, under the mayor’s “powers and duties” clause, assigns the mayor the power and/or duty “to attend all meetings of the City Council with authority to participate in discussions, but without power to vote.”
But over the course of his five years in office, Hayward has attended council meetings infrequently, usually opting to send the city administrator in his absence. Hayward’s office has previously argued that his attendance at city council meetings is a power, not a duty, and that it’s important for him to observe the separation between the executive and legislative branches of the city government.
“That’s one thing that I’m very happy I held my guns to,” said Hayward.
Hayward’s absence at council meetings has been regularly and sharply criticized by some city council members and citizens who believe the charter requires the mayor to attend council meetings. In 2011, Pensacola resident Katie Krasinksi was removed from a city council meeting room while shouting, “Where’s the mayor?”
“I don’t want to slow the process down and I don’t want to be stepping on their toes when it’s not my meeting,” said Hayward.