Pensacola City Council candidate questionnaire results

The Greater Pensacola Chamber sent an online questionnaire to local candidates running for Pensacola City Council. Questions focus on issues that impact the local business community.
*Answers provided by candidates are their own words.  Content has not been altered by Chamber staff.

Q1: Rate the regulatory climate for business in Pensacola. Is it good, fair or bad? Explain your answer.

District 1
CJ Lewis: I would describe the regulatory business climate within the City of Pensacola as “fair” because there is uneven application of city laws and policies. As a case in point, look at the recent confusion over how the Architectural Review Board (ARB) handled or mishandled the John Sunday House property. Worse, the ARB’s interpretation of the law goes back at least a decade. Where rules exist, they should be clear enough for a non-law school graduate to understand and applied uniformly and in a fair manner. Some business owners with friends in city hall do get preferential treatment while others do not. I first saw this in a case that came before the City Council in May 2008. More recently, only a few years ago, a business owner told me of an orchestrated campaign to drive them out of business. I contacted a member of the city staff who privately told me that Mayor Ashton Hayward did not believe the type of business was good for “his” city. City staff was told to make things hard for the business owner and according to the business owner did.

P.C. Wu: Good. Much has been done to streamline regulation within the city.

District 5
Gerald C. Wingate: Regularity climate is fair in Pensacola.

District 7
Jewel Cannada-Wynn: I think the regulatory climate is good depending on who you talk to. Businesses in our Airport and Brent Lane/Bayou Blvd corridors seem to do well. Improvement is needed for development and business concerns in the Urban Core. I would like to know from the business community perspective what are some of their concerns.

Q2: Provide any examples of how regulations have affected the lives of city residents or businesses in a positive or negative way.

District 1
CJ Lewis: As a city resident who does not own a business, I cannot think of any specific “business” examples. However, from the perspective of a citizen the lack or haphazard enforcement of regulations, i.e. city laws, is a problem to include most recently during the July 4th weekend when the Pensacola Police Department failed to enforce the laws against the use of fireworks to include in city parks and especially at Sanders Beach. The next day, Police Chief David Alexander appeared on WEAR Channel 3 to say that his department does not enforce the law.

P.C. Wu: One area where I have heard complaints is over zealousness of dispensing parking tickets in the downtown area.

District 5
Gerald C. Wingate: Zoning changes have affected some city resident in a negative way.

District 7
Jewel Cannada-Wynn: Regulations provided an opportunity for development on Jefferson St., However, the failure of the CRA to move forward with proposals for the Hawkshaw property was disappointing for the business community and for me.

Q3: Name the top 3 specific city ordinances/regulations you would like to see eliminated. Explain why they should be eliminated.

District 1
CJ Lewis: I would like to see three ordinances providing for a Small Business Enterprise (SBE) Program, Minority/Women’s Business Enterprise (M/WBE) Program and Veteran’s Business Enterprise (VBE) Program repealed and replaced by a single Local Business Preference Program to benefit businesses located within city limits. None of the three existing programs promotes the retention let alone the expansion of businesses inside city limits where the City Council exercises its authority as what state law calls “the governing body.” The SBE Program used to define “local area” as all of the 325XX zip-code area to include all of Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa Counties and part of Walton County. Councilman Charles Bare proposed narrowing the size of the local area to Escambia County but met great resistance from the City Council majority who thought it was unfair not to include Santa Rosa County businesses. Councilwoman Megan Pratt was especially concerned about her friends who had left the City of Pensacola to move to Gulf Breeze. He accepted an amendment that at least eliminated Okaloosa and Walton Counties. The VBE Program later proposed by Councilman Bare defined the local area as Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties. The M/WBE Program imagines a “Pensacola Regional Area” that covers two states and six counties extending from Walton County west to “Mobile.” Is that the same as Greater Pensacola notwithstanding that the chamber’s legal name is the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, Inc? I do not know. The poorly drafted M/WBE law does not explain if “Mobile” refers to the City of Mobile or Mobile County – both in Alabama – or if Baldwin County (also in Alabama) is also included in the Pensacola Regional Area. It might be. I doubt that the City of Mobile or Walton County spend much time worried about businesses in the City of Pensacola or even Escambia County. The so-called research in support of the M/WBE Program found no evidence of racial discrimination in the city’s contracting process though a person directly involved falsely testified to the Board of County Commissioners that it did. I believe that the City of Pensacola should do all it can to help businesses “in” the City of Pensacola and would hope that Escambia County would do the same for businesses “in” Escambia County and that Florida would do the same for its businesses. I am especially offended when the city’s elected officials act as if the loss of jobs from the city is good. As a case in point, in 2014, Mayor Hayward participated in a groundbreaking ceremony in East Milton for a company that was shutting down its operations inside Pensacola city limits with the loss of several hundred jobs. Mayor Hayward boasted, “All the impact they’ve had in Pensacola will now be in the city of Milton and Santa Rosa County.” Mayor Hayward had his picture taken at the groundbreaking ceremony. The Pensacola News Journal did not report his quote.

P.C. Wu: There is a reason why every ordinance in regulation is put into place. However, if there are specific reasons citizens feel an ordinance or regulation needs to be repealed, I am certainly open to listening to what they have to say.

District 5
Gerald C. Wingate: Strong Mayor

District 7
Jewel Cannada-Wynn: Currently the City has begun a review of city ordinances/regulations. This process will allow for repeal of ordinances that are outdated. Changes to ordinances to meet the current climate. In the future the council will have many changes because a review of the ordinances/regulations has not been accomplished in 20 years. Ordinances that cover sidewalks need to be revisited. The ordinance that define animal control needs to be modified to the county because the county is in charge of animal control. Housing ordinances that allow homes just to be boarded up is a bad reflection on the community. I look forward to the ordinance review process.

Q4: Should Pensacola have a Human Rights Ordinance? Explain why or why not.

District 1
CJ Lewis: NO. If I am elected to office, and the so-called “Human Rights” Ordinance comes before the City Council, I will vote NO. I have gay friends. My brother is gay. Many of the finest people with whom I served in the military are gay. I oppose discrimination in any form. However, adopting such an ordinance that only applies within the limited confines of the City of Pensacola, its land mass less than 4% of Escambia County, seems a recipe for disaster that will discourage businesses from locating inside city limits and may prompt others to move even if just outside city limits to avoid having to deal with the legal uncertainties of such a law. Shame on Councilman Brian Spencer for sponsoring the so-called Human Rights Ordinance. If the ACLU of Florida wants to pick a fight with a legislative body, and Councilman Spencer is fronting for the ACLU of Florida looking to put a notch on its belt and issue another press release about a big win for LGBT rights, it should focus its energies on the Florida Legislature. If the Florida Legislature were to adopt such a statute, it would apply uniformly statewide without pitting one county or municipality against another. This is a state-level not local-level issue.

P.C. Wu: I am opposed to discrimination against anyone. The best protections are provided by the State and Federal Governments.

District 5
Gerald C. Wingate: Human Rights ordinances are proposed to give additional rights to certain groups.

District 7
Jewel Cannada-Wynn: I respect the rights of all citizens, however, the current Human Rights Ordinance lacks enforcement.

Q5: What are the top 3 things the city council can do to facilitate a more livable downtown environment that also attracts and caters to the interests of visitors?

District 1
CJ Lewis: First, and the risk of stating the obvious, the City Council needs to deal more aggressively with the stormwater/storm surge issues, a matter made more complicated because so much of what we regard as “downtown” is on land reclaimed from the bay or built atop wetlands. In my opinion, now is the time to begin to think and plan for the inevitable sea-level rise. I also think that the city will have to build a new city hall on higher ground. Second, it is a mistake not to expand the Veteran’s Memorial Park. Its size should be expanded and its facilities enhanced. I would like to see the addition of more static aircraft displays. Third, the City Council needs to resolve the hodge-podge of jurisdictional boundaries. For example, assuming that “Downtown Pensacola” is considered to be everything south of Cervantes Street east of “A” Street and west of 17th Avenue, and not everyone would agree with such a broad interpretation, the City of Pensacola has three separate legal entities that oversee all or part of this two square mile area too often working at cross purposes – the City of Pensacola and its two “dependent special districts” the Pensacola Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and the Pensacola Downtown Improvement Board (DIB). At one point, the number of such entities was four to include the city’s Pensacola Enterprise Zone Development Agency created by state law that turned into a fraud in 2008 when its governing body the Enterprise Zone Advisory Board ceased to meet while the city government maintained the fiction to Tallahassee that nothing was wrong.

P.C. Wu: I believe the top three things to the city can do, within their responsibilities, to make downtown more livable is:
1. Provide a clean environment.
2. Provide a safe environment for the public by keeping the streets and sidewalks in good repair, and making the streets bike, walking and jogging friendly.
3. Create a safe personal environment through good police presence. We need to work with the private sector to provide more parking.

District 5
Gerald C. Wingate:
1. Add restroom facilities
2. Gallery Nights
3. Reduce Homelessness

District 7
Jewel Cannada-Wynn: (Definition of downtown) The definition of downtown Pensacola includes 17th Ave and Cervantes to the East and Pace and Cervantes to the west/South to the Bay. I would like to see a tourist/visitors center located in the tourist area to include restrooms. This facility would open to the public but will have supervision and sell products that represent our rich history. Sell surplus property for business development or housing. This includes the city and CRA. Review any zoning requirements that might restrict development.

Q6: Provide one example where the City of Pensacola tackled a difficult infrastructure project successfully in the past 5 years. Explain why you consider it a success.

District 1
CJ Lewis: I have no subject matter expertise to assess what is a “difficult” versus an “easy” infrastructure project. However, in general, let me give a blanket endorsement of all infrastructure projects at the airport. Every project done there seems well done.

P.C. Wu: The Admiral Mason storm water pond, which has won a state award, beautified the area, and created a walking/jogging area.

District 5
Gerald C. Wingate: Repairs after the flood and airport retention pond

District 7
Jewel Cannada-Wynn: If we eliminate the repairs from the flood of 2014, we should include the Storm water project on government street that is underway. Funding for the project was provided with grant money. Citizens had concerns over the project and the concerns were worked out with the city purchasing additional land to support the project. The project is not complete, however, the ability to eliminate a lake on government street after a heavy rain will be an accomplishment. The city completes road projects throughout the year, roads, drainage, sidewalks, dredging of Bayou Texar. I never compared them to each other in reference to their difficulties.

Q7: What do you consider to be the number one infrastructure concern for the City of Pensacola moving forward? How do you propose to address that concern?

District 1
CJ Lewis: Citywide, stormwater issues are a major concern. This is not just a “Downtown Pensacola” issue. There are two stormwater problems in sight of my driveway – problems that have existed for decades and no one seems to have a sense of urgency about ever fixing them. Outside of District 1, anyone who has ever driven on 9th Avenue during a major rainstorm near Pensacola State College or tried to navigate Burgess Road when underwater knows these problems exist even in the northern parts of the city. The city has a dedicated stormwater revenue source but more can be done using Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) revenues. As a sign of true foolishness, the City Council recently voted to borrow more than $6 million from future LOST revenues to build a second community center (“event center”) at Bayview Park. A 2011 city study says that it is not needed. Mayor Hayward and Councilman Larry Johnson who live on either side of the park have claimed without proof that the Hayward Administration’s own study is not valid. Councilman Johnson later told me that the infrastructure project it is needed because the city’s African-American community wants it built and in East Hill. In fact, Councilman Johnson’s District 4 has a less than 3% African-American population that was racially gerrymandered by 30% to that level after he testified to the Districting Commission expressing concern about “the racial mix” and emphasizing, “[T]he majority of my constituents are Caucasian or white.” When I served in the Pentagon, I coined a term during the budget process – “unwaste” – to describe the need to defund wasteful projects and reprogram the monies into “needs” not “wants.” The City Council needs to “unwaste” that $6+ million. Within District 1, a top priority for me is to refurbish the Gulf Point Community Center. A new senior center along an ECAT bus route and perhaps at a midpoint between Districts 1 and 2 would be nice too along with a “large” dog park.

P.C. Wu: Controlling storm water.  This requires a two-pronged approach:
1. Getting engineers who are experts in the area.
2. Diverting money to properly fund what is needed.

District 5
Gerald C. Wingate: Sidewalks in population-dense areas like 9th Ave. and lighting on major roads

District 7
Jewel Cannada-Wynn: Citizens have told me that they are concern about flooding and lighting. Currently, the city is in the process of a lighting study. There was no detail records of the lighting system (street lights) in the city. Many areas are really dark. These areas that are not well lite constitute a safety hazard. The city has contracted with a vendor to do an assessment. After the assessment the city will be able to identify areas that need better lighting. The cost of this should come from LOST dollars. It is in my request. Flooding issues, also I have targeted dollars from the LOST. A public/Private partnership is developing to deal with flooding and infrastructure needs in the Moreno/E Street area.

Q8: Do you believe the city allocates sufficient resources for infrastructure projects? How would you prioritize these projects and fund them?

District 1
CJ Lewis: I am in no position to answer the first question without access to a study that objectively assesses the city’s infrastructure needs. As example, everyone knew that Fire Station #3 was decrepit but Mayor Hayward insisted it was fine until Councilwoman Sherri Myers called him out in public, ironically at the request of the firefighters who then abandoned her cause. There seems little truth or transparency in city hall as very recently seen in the deception related to the Corrine Jones Stormwater Pond issue as the Hayward Administration tried and partially succeeded in shaking down the Board of County Commissioners for county dollars. As described in an earlier answer, stormwater/storm surge issues are major concerns and a top priority to me. As for how to fund them, and other infrastructure projects, the City Council is little interested in the budget process to its detriment. I am very interested in the budget process. During my last three years on active duty in the Marine Corps, one of my jobs in the Pentagon was to oversee the service’s Intelligence Budget of about $700 million. There is plenty of waste in the city budget that can be squeezed out with the money reprogrammed for more important needs than a legal advisor for the City Administrator or a person to take pictures of Mayor Hayward to post to his Facebook page. City Council members as diverse as Councilwoman Myers and Councilman Andy Terhaar have each said that there are millions of dollars of – “waste” – in the city budget. I agree. Unfortunately, most City Council members have been so browbeat into submission by those like the editorial board at the Pensacola News Journal that falsely claim they are “diminished,” that they take no interest in the budget process. Last year, Councilman Gerald Wingate skipped all of the City Council’s budget workshops saying he was too busy, i.e. it was not important to him.

P.C. Wu: We do what we can. Keep in mind there are many needs within the city such as police protection, fire service, streets, roads, and sidewalks, Parks and Recreation, etc. What is needed is a common-sense balance between all services that the city is required to provide.

District 5
Gerald C. Wingate: More funds should be allocated to infrastructure as repaving the streets. Priority should be given to helping people.

District 7
Jewel Cannada-Wynn: The city uses its LOST funds to provide funding for major capital projects. Within the next 90 days a workshop will be conducted by the city council in order to identify projects and prioritized these projects based on funding. However, we must look at all types of funding for projects. For example, there are opportunities to identify dollars for sidewalks, storm water drains, landscaping that occurs on state roads through the TPO/FDOT process. Every effort should be made to identify projects and locate funding sources to get the job done. Projects especially flooding concerns should focus on those areas that have had flooding problems over a long period of time and areas that have safety concerns for children and the elderly.

Q9: Do you see any overlap or duplication of services between the city and the county? If so, what services should be consolidated? How could these services be consolidated?

District 1
CJ Lewis: YES. In truth, city voters could vote to abolish the city government as provided by Section 165.051, Florida Statutes, and few would notice until they realized how much more money they had in their bank accounts no longer having to pay extra city taxes and fees. I served as one of only two city appointees to the 25-member Escambia County Consolidation Study Commission and as its Secretary. We found no impediments to consolidation of public safety functions and found that consolidation of certain staff functions such as Human Resources was feasible. However, the commission viewed our mandate as wholesale consolidation or nothing at all so we made no recommendations with respect to limited “functional” consolidation. My opinion then and now is that almost any function of city government can be done as good or better or at less cost by inter-local agreement with another local government or by privatization. Without going into detail here, I can immediately think of certain functional areas that are already consolidated in whole or part. Some municipal functions have been privatized. However, I am not aware of any independent management assessments to determine if the effort is a success or failure.

P.C. Wu: The city and the county are different creatures. People live within the city limits because they enjoy a higher level of police and fire protection and amenities such as Parks and Recreation. Moreover, these people who live within the city are willing to pay higher taxes for these services and amenities. However, if there are areas where the city and county can combine to provide more efficient services, I certainly would be in favor of that.

District 5
Gerald C. Wingate: No overlap or duplication.

District 7
Jewel Cannada-Wynn: By nature of our two different governments there are services that each government provides. Police, Fire, Park and Recreation, and business permits.(City and County) Sanitation (City/ECUA). The first priority is getting the governments to the table to discuss the future needs for the entire county and setting measureable goals.

Q10: Do you believe the current monthly meeting schedule for the council is sufficient? Do you believe the council should hold committee meetings in advance of council meetings to work out contentious issues?

District 1
CJ Lewis: On the first question – NO. Under a long-standing city law, the City Council was required to meet twice a month – every month – but did not. Under both the prior Council-Manager form of government, that Charter first adopted in 1931, and the more recent Mayor-Council form of government Charter, first effective in 2010 but not providing for a change in the form of government until 2011, the City Council was required to meet no less than once a month, i.e. if it amended the city law it still had to require that it still meet at least once a month. For many years the City Council ignored the city law requiring it to meet at least twice a month and no one cared. At the urging of Mayor Hayward, Councilman Johnson fought to reduce the number of meetings of the City Council once even saying that he believed they could meet ever few months to rubberstamp whatever decisions Mayor Hayward had made for them. Ultimately, the City Council amended the city law reducing the number of “regular” meetings each month to one. If elected, I will propose that the City Council begin to hold two regular meetings a month, amend the city law to say that same and propose amendment to the City Charter to lock in the change for posterity. The Mayor and City Council members regularly fail or refuse to attend City Council meetings and yet no one wants to use the City Charter authority to compel them to do so. The Charter should be amended to provide that elected officials who fail or refuse to attend the full duration of at least 85% of “all” meetings of the City Council should be removed from office. My District 1 Councilman P.C. Wu has now missed the last three meetings of the City Council. His record or absenteeism is third behind that of Councilman Johnson and Mayor Hayward who both often show up late and leave early too often doing so together. On the second question, the answer is more complicated than a simple YES or NO. Previously, the City Council used what I would describe as a “phony” committee system. All of the committee meetings were held at the same time with all City Council members present and allowed to speak. The Committee of the Whole meeting then followed. Rather than get rid of committee meetings as the City Council did in 2011, they should have fixed the system. A better system would be to create up to five committees of no more than three City Council members with each committee to meet only when required and at a date and time of choosing of the committee members. I would bring back the Committee of the Whole meeting in place of the Agenda Conference that often denigrates into something almost like a Committee of the Whole meeting minus meaningful opportunities for public input. In truth, a well-run committee system would be more efficient and lead to better decisions because often the true experts on an issue are not on the City Council and/or do not work in city government. A bad decision made quickly in fewer meetings is still a bad decision. The fact that the City Council cannot adopt a simple Food Truck Ordinance after three years signals that something is very wrong.

P.C. Wu: The one week or one meeting a month is really a misnomer. If one goes back and checks the records, there is seldom a month in which the City Council does not hold other meetings or workshops.

District 5
Gerald C. Wingate: The monthly council meeting is sufficient. Committee meetings may need to be considered.

District 7
Jewel Cannada-Wynn: I do feel that the current monthly meeting schedule is sufficient. My understanding was that there would be one monthly meeting but we would also have workshops in order for the council to discuss agenda items. The idea was never to meet only once a month but have the workshops to facilitate the council’s agenda. It has been proven that when the council is in a workshop setting discussions are really informative and we work out issues. The agenda conference, if utilized effectively is also an place where discussions could take place and if action items do not have enough information to proceed then the council could refer it to a workshop or back to the sponsor for more info. I am continuing to research the committee format. I want the council to do it legislative function effectively and efficiently.

Q11: How will you work to build a more collaborative environment among elected officials? How can the city council better work with other local and state officials to further business interests in Pensacola?

District 1
CJ Lewis: The City Charter requires the Mayor to “attend all meetings of the City Council” but he refuses. Once Mayor Hayward even showed up for just a few minutes to give an award to a campaign supports daughter – a duplicate of an award she had already received from the City of Gulf Breeze – and then Mayor Hayward left to go outside to have his picture taken. He took his hair comb with him and did not return. Within days of being elected, Mayor Hayward had City Attorney Rusty Wells tell the Pensacola News Journal’s Jaime Page that he was not going to attend City Council meetings and for the most part, he has not. The language in Pensacola’s Charter is adopted from the Charter for the City of Hialeah where that Mayor does attend all meetings of the City Council. The City Charter needs to be amended to make the Mayor a voting member of the City Council and its Presiding Officer as in many other Mayor-Council forms of government to include Charleston. With respect to the second question, it is a challenge for the City Council as a whole or any individual City Council member to deal with other “local and state officials” for any purpose when the Mayor is working private agendas in secret. I think Commissioner Grover Robinson once well described the problem in 2013 when he said he had no idea who was in charge of the city government. Sometimes the Mayor, the City Administrator other city staff and people claiming to speak for the Mayor act at cross-purposes. One thing the City Council could do is assign specific City Council members to take the lead keeping up with the activities of the Board of County Commissioners or ECUA Board – to include reading their agendas and attending their regular meetings – and members of the state legislative delegation representing the city.

P.C. Wu: I have had the opportunity to build many collaborative relationships with local elected officials through boards such as the Florida Alabama TPO and Escambia Tourism Council. On a much broader level, I would encourage elected officials to join the Northwest Florida League Of Cities and Florida League Of Cities to develop relationships at the state wide level and to get a much broader perspective of what’s happening throughout our great state.

District 5
Gerald C. Wingate: Meet with officials and get to know them.

District 7
Jewel Cannada-Wynn: The city council must first identify its business interest. At one point it was technology, however, the tech park was not answer. A skilled workforce/education is essential for a successful community. I would like to start there. We must first define the business interests and then get the stake holders to accept the direction that has been identified.

Q12: What would your five-year plan for the City of Pensacola look like?

District 1
CJ Lewis: As a general principle, I would focus a five-year plan on addressing Quality of Life issues in the city’s neighborhoods. Between 2000 and 2010, the city suffered a 7.7% population loss of 4,332 residents. Where did these people go? The City Council has never wanted to know why. The city’s current population growth is anemic at a rate less than Escambia County and far below that of Santa Rosa County. The City of Pensacola has a per capita crime rate above that of Escambia County, far above that of Florida as a while and several times higher than Santa Rosa County. In spite of the obvious benefits, many have left to live in Santa Rosa County to include many city employees. The good news is that addressing Quality of Life issues is a lot less expensive than major infrastructure issues. For example, the Pensacola Police Department seems understaffed relative to the crime problem inside city limits. If adding more police officers to the Uniform Patrol Division lowers per capita crime rates, and it can be done at a reasonable cost, it may encourage more people and especially families with children to move into the city or stay here. In truth, what is needed is a 20-year plan with five-year budgets tied to supporting that plan. I twice participated in the Defense Department’s Quadrennial Defense Review once as a subject matter expert when serving on the Office of the Secretary Staff but more substantively a second time in a significant position as an adjunct to my primary duties as Chief, Intelligence Plans & Policy for the Marine Corps. Every four years, the Defense Department drafts a plan that assesses the threat 20-years into the future. As my Congressional Affairs & Budget staff monitored the current year of budget execution and finalized the next proposed annual budget, we also made adjustments to the outlines of future budgets. The city’s annual budget is its most important document but I can count on one hand the number of City Council members who I think have actually ever read it. On the current City Council, the number is three.

P.C. Wu: Pensacola is on a great track. Since we built the ballpark, the downtown has been expanding every year, becoming ever more vibrant and beautiful. We need input from all age groups and all racial groups as to what should happen in Pensacola. We need orderly growth and obviously we need more people living downtown and high-paying jobs where they can work. The Publix grocery store on Cervantes is an important addition, and exactly the kind of business to encourage further growth.

District 5
Gerald C. Wingate: Improve the community by having the CRA function, develop affordable housing and implement projects as other cities are doing.

District 7
Jewel Cannada-Wynn: A city that has embraced its history.

Q13: What role should city government take in attracting new businesses to the area? Be specific.

District 1
CJ Lewis: One thing the city government does badly is give out tax breaks to millionaires. The incompetence is shocking compounded by the fact that there is no fact checking of claims and no assessment of effectiveness. State law documents are routinely “pencil-whipped” and even falsified. If the state ever gets a “whiff” of the city’s conjoined Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemption (EDATE) and Enterprise Zone Program scandals, heads will roll. The City Council knows bits and pieces about the scandals but is mostly kept in the dark and often seems to like it that way. For this reason, absent strong political leadership, and that does not seem to be on the immediate horizon, the City Council should focus on making the City of Pensacola a better place to live because it is horrible at the corporate welfare business.

P.C. Wu: The role of the city is to make itself attractive to businesses that would like to relocate there. For example is a city safe, is the crime rate low, do people feel safe as they move from place to place? Is the place attractive  – is the grass cut, are the streets and sidewalks well thought out, lots of foliage and green spaces, and flowers in abundance? The additional thing the city can do is encourage venues for the cultural arts, such as the Opera, Ballet, the Symphony, which perform at places like the Saenger, and this will do much to attract economic development.

District 5
Gerald C. Wingate: Provide incentives and educated workforce. Reduce regulations.

District 7
Jewel Cannada-Wynn: Providing a clear and simple process for doing business. Providing the infrastructure assistance and helping to promote a skilled workforce. If there is surplus land make it available as incentives if possible as well as address zoning and land development concerns.

Q14: Are there specific industries on which the City of Pensacola should concentrate its business development/growth efforts? Be specific.

District 1
CJ Lewis: When I served in the Marine Corps, I saw how much time and energy was expended on the recruitment process. I had a different view believing that the best Marines were the ones you already had. Retention was most important to me. The City of Pensacola has a lot of businesses already within its borders. It needs to focus on helping them stay in business and then expand. I believe that a Local Business Preference Program will help. Expedited business processes within city government will also help. When I ran for Mayor in 2008, I was shocked at how often business owners told me that city hall was hostile to local businesses. In a few examples that I looked into, there appeared to be truth in some of the claims. Rather than me take a guess at which industries/businesses could expand especially given the city’s annexation challenges, I would rather rely on the expertise of Florida West and the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of West Florida.

P.C. Wu: The City of Pensacola should attract what I call clean industries, in other words, industries that do not pollute or damage our environment or work against what we have done to create the beauty of our downtown. This might include technology companies, more shops and restaurants, businesses related to our historical past,  professional services and tourism. Also, UWF and Pensacola State have much to offer and should be fully utilized.

District 5
Gerald C. Wingate: Manufacturing, aviation and construction

District 7
Jewel Cannada-Wynn: I would like for businesses that require 2 years of college or less and pay high wages. I would also like to see more small business development and assistance.

Q15: What should the city do with excess properties it owns? Which properties should take priority?

District 1
CJ Lewis: I am not aware of a list of “excess properties” awaiting disposal and would have no basis for prioritizing a list not shown to me. The Policies of the City Council next under review on July 11 do address the issue of “Policy for Disposition of City Owned Real Property.” However, as a general principle, it is the Mayor that recommends that property is excess with the role of the City Council to verify that the property is excess and determine the transaction method. If the question is intended to solicit a view on The Fish House lease, my opinion is that absent some other long-term need for the property, the city should sell it for a fair market price.

P.C. Wu: Pensacola should consider selling surplus properties in order to put them on the tax rolls. However property that is considered strategic should be retained by the city as needed for future public use.

District 5
Gerald C. Wingate: Use larger properties for more open spaces for citizens. Sell off the small properties.

District 7
Jewel Cannada-Wynn: Excess property should be used for housing and other economic development. Which properties should take priority will be market driven.

Q16: What is your vision for Community Maritime Park? How should the city develop this property?

District 1
CJ Lewis: The project has been an unmitigated financial disaster. Because city hall prefers that the story be kept buried, and the Pensacola News Journal does not want to discuss it, almost no one knows that millions in taxpayer dollars are being sunk into the project each year, a project that was intended to be an “economic development” project that would pay for itself. People wrongly assume that downtown property owners are paying special property taxes to pay for the project. They do not. By decision of the City Council, Tax Increment Financing (TIF) dollars are diverted from the city, county and even the DIB General Fund budgets. If the city ever terminates its parking, management agreement with the DIB, as it should and as recommended by the Urban Redevelopment Advisory Committee, the DIB will no longer be reimbursed those monies. It was the county’s forced payment of money to the city’s Urban Core Redevelopment Trust Fund that caused the funding crisis in the West Florida Public Library System. City property owners lost out on that deal forced by the City Council to pay to the county a new West Florida Public Library Municipal Services Taxing Unit (MSTU) property tax millage rate but seeing no relief in the city’s general property tax millage rate. At this point, the Community Maritime Park economic development project is what it is and the City Council needs to make itself the Community Maritime Park Associates, Inc. (CMPA) Board of Trustees as it can do at any time, the CMPA having already violated its agreement appointing members not appointed by the City of Pensacola, and then on the first legally permissible date the City Council acting as the CMPA Board needs to abolish the CMPA returning the taxpayer-funded “Public Improvements” to public ownership. Outside a small group of city hall watchers, almost no one knows that the City Council gave away ownership of the Public Improvements to the CMPA that owns even Blue Wahoos Stadium, a private rather than public facility. Once the City of Pensacola has control over the project again, a top priority is to build the 976-space parking structure that was part of the original plan but seems to have been forgotten. The parking structure is described in the project’s visionary Community Maritime Park Design Criteria Pattern Book that almost no City Council members have ever read. One CMPA Board member told me he had never heard of it. My personal assessment is that what the site needs most is a first-class hotel.

P.C. Wu: The city should provide the land to businesses who will serve the public needs such as a museum, a marina or perhaps a hotel. However it is imperative that the south part of the space remain open green space for the citizens of the city to enjoy and use for recreation, forever.  That is a pledge I made when I first ran for office.

District 5
Gerald C. Wingate: Continue to use the park to benefit the people of the community. Go back to marketing the parcels that are available.

District 7
Jewel Cannada-Wynn: My vision is to have the bill/bond paid off. The available lots should be marketed for best use of the tax payers.

Q17: What is your vision for the Port of Pensacola?

District 1
CJ Lewis: It is a “boutique” port. It will never compete with a big port like the one in Mobile and there is no need that it does so. In my opinion, the Port of Pensacola has for many years suffered from benign neglect with the city never fully committed to modernizing it and conflicted about its future. That former Port Director Clyde Mathis was told to resign or be terminated to make way for the present Port Director Amy Miller is troubling especially given Clyde’s assessment in 2011 that Mayor Hayward was ambivalent to the point of disinterest about the future of the port. If elected, I will push the City Council to take an active legislative oversight interest in the port to include hiring a management expert – as the City Council has the power to do – to provide an independent assessment of the port’s operations to include its recurring fiscal challenges.

P.C. Wu: The historic Port of Pensacola serves an important role in the City of Pensacola. The evolution of the port has taken a healthy turn since we have now become involved in servicing ships that service oil rigs. This is an activity that has benefited both the ships as well as the city of Pensacola. Docking fees, local companies, restaurants, hotels and the airport all benefit as this business expands. The recent Panama Canal improvements also open new opportunities, which our able Port Director and staff are now exploring.

District 5
Gerald C. Wingate: Diversify the activity at the small port that we have.

District 7
Jewel Cannada-Wynn: I support keeping the port. However, there were about ten acres of land that was once considered for multi-use purpose.

Q18: What is your vision for Downtown Pensacola over the next 5 years? If you could have one wish granted for Downtown Pensacola, what would it be?

District 1
CJ Lewis: My one wish would be to abolish the DIB that falsely claims to be both a not-for-profit corporation and an “independent state agency.” The recent appointment of a person to the DIB Board who does not meet the eligibility requirements of state law is very troubling especially given that Mayor Hayward, the City Council, the City Attorney and DIB know. If elected, I will ask the City Council to direct the City Attorney to seek an Advisory Legal Opinion from the Attorney General to determine if all of the votes cast by that person are invalid. The DIB recently pressured the City Council to allow it to exercise what state law calls “extra-territorial powers.” Section 166.021 Powers, Florida Statutes, provides that only the Florida Legislature can authorize the exercise of such powers. The problems with the DIB seem unending.

P.C. Wu: Stable growth and development. Prior to the economic recession there were numerous housing projects slated for downtown most  of which have not come into existence. What we need downtown, more than anything else, is more residents, and Quint Studer’s project at the old Pensacola News Journal site does much to help this need. This increasing growth in terms of residents is essential for any more growth we have downtown. We also need more parking as we expand, a variety of activities that will draw people downtown i.e. shops, restaurants, bars, etc., and we must pay attention to Pensacola’s historical roots, enhancing the beauty of our architecture, and the learning experience created by our interesting past.

District 5
Gerald C. Wingate: Make Pensacola a historical destination for families to visit.

District 7
Jewel Cannada-Wynn: I look for more citizens to live downtown, however, growth must be managed. More people living downtown would support more business development. I would also like to see more historical and recreational opportunities.

Q19: Tourism is an integral part of Pensacola’s economy. What are the top 3 ways the city council can add value for the Pensacola business community with respect to increasing tourism and nurturing a positive tourist experience while in Pensacola?

District 1
CJ Lewis: First, keeping the city cleaner would be a nice start. Growing up an Air Force family and then moving away to the San Francisco Bay Area to go to college and then serving in the Marine Corps, I have lived in a lot of place to include five years in Japan, five years in Hawaii and five years in England. In 2008, I described the City of Pensacola to the Pensacola Association of Realtors as “a city of squandered opportunity” emphasizing that it was a dirty place. I still see a lot of trash about and people dump it all the time in my neighborhood to include on the night of July 4th when someone dumped several bags of their home garbage in the street near the park across the street. Code Enforcement seems to be optional in some parts of the city. Second, a way to encourage tourists to stay “in” the City of Pensacola, something important to me though perhaps not a priority for those who own hotels at the beach, would be to give them incentives to do so. Perhaps people staying at hotels and motels inside city limits could be charged city resident rates to use recreational facilities, etc. It is within the power of the City Council to do so. Third, a visitor center in “Uptown Pensacola,” perhaps at Cordova Mall, might do a lot to promote the place to non-city residents. Similarly, one related idea that comes to mind would be working with the U.S.O. to build a center at Cordova Mall. Although we do not normally think of military service members as “tourists,” being stationed at a far-away military base and especially without a car can be a tough experience. Anything that the city and county to include ECAT could do to improve the experiences for military service members would likely to improve the bottom line for some or perhaps many businesses.

P.C. Wu: I am honored to be a long-time board member of the Escambia County Tourism Commission. In that regard, we spend a lot of effort in tracking people as they visit our great city. We should encourage more hotels, in fact one with some convention abilities, ballroom, and meeting rooms would be ideal. Public service announcements encouraging our citizens to reach out in help and friendship to visitors would emphasize our Southern hospitality. Publicizing our historical downtown would bring families interested in the beginnings of our state and country. Making it easy to learn about our historical sites is imperative – and as our reputation grows, more historical tourism activities will materialize.

District 5
Gerald C. Wingate: Develop and improve the public spaces we have in the Downtown area. Keep the streets and sidewalks cleaned.

District 7
Jewel Cannada-Wynn: Provide a visitor center downtown with restrooms. I would also like to talk to “Visit Pensacola”/TDC to determine what the concerns are for visitors downtown. Beef up a police presence to ensure safety and create a more walkable city. Since the council has members that sit on the board, I will request that they come to the council and asked the members this exact question. I believe that every paper bag, cup, napkin should have a Pensacola Logo on it. Everywhere people travel they see Pensacola.

Q20: What can the city council do to support and attract more manufacturing jobs to Escambia County?

District 1
CJ Lewis: If the question refers to jobs being created “outside” of the City of Pensacola, I would not support the expenditure of city tax dollars especially given that Escambia County has so much money it can afford to pay Navy Federal Credit Union to create jobs for people who live in Santa Rosa County and Baldwin County. My focus will be on my District 1 and then the City of Pensacola as a whole. However, obviously, the City of Pensacola is in Escambia County so what happens in one affects the other. One area where the City of Pensacola could be a positive force for manufacturing jobs outside of city limits is if the city reduced its crime levels, provided better infrastructure to include recreational facilities and in doing so creating a better place for workers to live. Right now, the mindset seems to be “Work in Escambia County; Live in Santa Rosa County.” Absent Escambia County being abolished and all of us suddenly living in Santa Rosa County, something has to be done to encourage workers and their families to live in Escambia County and especially the City of Pensacola. Because manufacturing jobs tend to provide higher wages, one area where the City of Pensacola might help is by helping workers to own homes “in the city.” Inside city limits, we seem to have a lot of empty homes, to include four I can see from my driveway two of which have been converted into unapproved “home” businesses. People vote with their feet. If the City of Pensacola can get its act together, perhaps it could begin to increase its population at least back to the level of just under 60,000 in 1970. That would be a start in the right direction. However, for that to happen, the city is going to have to do more than give lip service paying consultants to dream up catchy taglines like “The Upside of Florida.” Mayor Hayward brags, “Perception is reality.” As a theme for a first date, there is a kernel of truth in that claim. However, in the end, the truth inevitably does come out.

P.C. Wu: The county is more open to a greater variety of industry. We should be cautious that the industry enhances our area. A good example is ST Aerospace which is coming to the Pensacola airport. ST aerospace will provide high-paying jobs which are sorely needed in our area. The county has land, and we have an educated workforce. The City should emphasize and publicize the many advantages of the Pensacola area – low cost of living, beautiful beaches, historical sites, cultural events, great medical facilities, and a hardworking and engaged population. Not enough people and businesses know about our many fine attributes.

District 5
Gerald C. Wingate: Support education in the skills needed to provide the trained workforce they need.

District 7
Jewel Cannada-Wynn: This is a joint effort between the county and city. Both governmental bodies/Mayor and Council would need to determine what type of jobs to attract. Are we looking for the Fortune 500 companies like General Electric or are we looking for small upstart companies. This area maybe the common ground both parties need to embrace and have a conversation as well as develop a plan.

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