Ashton Hayward was elected mayor of Pensacola in 2010 after the city passed a new charter forming a "strong mayor" form of government in 2009. Hayward is a native of Pensacola, attended local schools, and graduated from Florida State University. 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 also serves in an unofficial capacity in guiding local economic development initiatives, leading legislative advocacy efforts to state and federal elected officials and agencies, and ceremonial duties throughout the region.