Ashton was the first mayor elected under Pensacola’s 2009 charter reform, where he served as the city’s chief executive officer from 2011 until 2018.
During his time as mayor, Ashton worked to cut taxes and right-size the city’s workforce and budget while simultaneously streamlining operations, reducing crime, and improving city services. He also reformed city pension programs, reducing the city’s net pension liability by more than $15 million. Partnering with other local governments, Ashton led the transition of public vehicle fleets to compressed natural gas and pushed for the construction of three CNG fueling stations, a move that saved taxpayers millions of dollars.
As mayor, Ashton also oversaw Pensacola International Airport, the largest commercial airport between New Orleans and Jacksonville; the Port of Pensacola, a full-service deep water port; and Pensacola Energy, Florida’s oldest and largest municipally-owned natural gas utility. Under his leadership, Pensacola International Airport has continued to grow, adding Southwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines, as well as a UPS regional air cargo facility.
Taking the lead role in regional economic development, Ashton was instrumental in expanding the NW Florida I-10 aviation corridor. He spearheaded Pensacola’s effort to recruit ST Engineering, the world’s largest commercial airframe provider. This effort resulted in the company’s commitment to bring 400 jobs to the area, with as many as 2,000 employees in future expansions.
Active in public service on a local, regional, and statewide level, Ashton was appointed by Florida Governor Rick Scott to the Florida Commission on Community Service, also known as Volunteer Florida, and is a member of Leadership Florida’s Cornerstone Class XXXVI. Currently, he also serves on the board of directors for Achieve Escambia and as a member of the Escambia County Infant Mortality Task Force. In addition, Ashton previously served on the board of directors for the Florida League of Mayors and as a member of the Northwest Florida Transportation Corridor Authority.
Prior to being elected as Mayor of Pensacola, Ashton worked in New York City as an executive at the AT&T Corporation and the Financial Times. In 2003, he returned to Pensacola where he founded a successful real estate development company.
Ashton is a native of Pensacola and a graduate of Florida State University.