City Councilman Bare and Mayor Hayward Go Head To Head Over Proposed Changes

pensacola city charter pic
City Councilman Bare and Mayor Hayward Go Head To Head Over Proposed Changes
By: Kelly Woodard

Pensacola’s City Charter may be facing some big changes in the near future, as Mayor Ashton Hayward and City Councilman Charles Bare go head to head on changes that could shift the power of our local government. Bare has proposed three separate amendments that will limit the Mayor’s power within the city and will keep closer tabs on funds and local deals that may not currently involve the city council.
If approved, however, the amendments would grant the council new powers to establish financial controls, fix the salaries of elected officials and make changes to the city budget. The amendments would also strip the mayor of the power to determine the organization of city departments and make him a voting member of the city council, a move that Hayward feels is part of a different agenda on Bare’s part.
But Bare claims his proposed changes will benefit the city in several ways including promoting more open communication between the council and the Mayor’s office. By withholding from the mayor the power to vote under the current charter, the mayor is allowed to meet privately with individual representatives, without regard to the state’s sunshine laws. In addition, by withholding the mayor’s power to vote in the city council, he cannot be recalled by voters as current city council members can be.
Last Tuesday, Bare addressed the issue with the council saying that the Charter Review Commission has “cherry picked” which elements to follow giving the Mayor more power then he deserves. “The people voted for separation of powers,” Bare said. “They didn’t vote for backroom deals.”
Hayward fired back at Bare’s accusations and proposal, releasing a statement saying, “The amendments proposed by Councilman Bare are a Trojan horse designed to dismantle the City Charter and take our city back to a form of government that simply didn’t work. I am disappointed that councilman Bare has chosen to pursue a path which undercuts the will of the voters and takes our city in the wrong direction.”
Since Hayward took office, his administration has interpreted the charter to give him the authority to reallocate money as he sees fit, without council approval, so long as he does not transfer money from fund to fund.
Hayward may be fighting for more than his current charter as Bare has received confirmation from the Escambia County Supervisor of Elections office that he had gathered enough signatures to be placed on the ballot in Pensacola Mayor’s Race for the 2014 Primary and/or General elections. He is the first Mayoral candidate to meet the requirement.
In a press release, Bare stated that most of the signatures were collected by visiting residents door to door. Bare says he began his quest for Mayor by walking the city’s 22 precincts in mid-November 2013, personally collecting petition cards from more than 1,300 homes. “For me, having the face-to-face discussions with voters in their doorways, living rooms and kitchens is invaluable. I learn so much just by listening to the voters,” said Bare.
As for the changes to the Pensacola City Charter, Bare’s proposal will go in front of Monday’s agenda conference, and could go before the council for a vote as early as April 24
th. Before becoming a law, the council will need to vote on the matter twice and will then need to be approved by voters in the August primary elections.