Ashton Hayward was elected mayor of Pensacola in 2010 after the city passed a new "strong mayor" chartered government in 2009. Hayward is a native of Pensacola, attended local schools, and graduated from Florida State University with a degree in political science. Prior to his election as mayor, Hayward worked in New York City for the AT&T Corporation and the Financial Times. In 2003, Hayward returned to Pensacola with his wife, An, and started a real estate firm, which he managed until taking office in 2011.
As mayor, Hayward manages a city staff of almost 800, a budget of over $200 million, and works with members of the City Council to set policy and the city budget. In addition to managerial and policy duties, the mayor directs local economic initiatives and advocates pro-Pensacola legislation to state and federal agencies. Mayor Hayward has been a board member of the Florida League of Mayors since 2014 and currently serves on the FLM Strategic Planning committee. In 2015, Governor Rick Scott appointed Mayor Hayward as a commissioner with Florida's lead agency for volunteerism and national service, Volunteer Florida. Mayor Hayward is also a board member for Achieve Escambia and is a member of the Escambia County Infant Mortality Task Force.