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Ken Welch Makes History As First Black Mayor Of St. Petersburg

Ken Welch Makes History As First Black Mayor Of St. Petersburg

He’s building upon his family’s legacy!

Ken Welch is making history as the first Black mayor of St. Petersburg, Fox 13 News reports. 

A St. Pete’s native, Welch was one of the last in the city to attend segregated schools during his elementary years. His family has a long history of civil engagement. His father, David Welch made history as the first Black man to serve on the St. Petersburg City Council and he also made a run for mayor in 1991. Now, Welch is carrying the torch, recently making history as the first Black mayor of St. Petersburg. 

“As a child of the civil rights era, I grew up in the areas of our city where my family lived not by choice, but by sanctioned discriminatory practices that defined where African Americans could live in our city. But during the Great American Teach-In in November, I returned to Melrose and spoke to students in the classrooms of two great teachers, Delia Michelle Doss and Natalie El Amrani. I spoke to those wonderful and engaging students as Mayor-elect of our city! That’s a story of progress,” said Welch. 

Recently, Welch was sworn in as the 54th mayor of St. Pete in a virtual ceremony due to a breakthrough case of COVId-19. His daughter, Kenya Welch, who had also contracted the virus, held the bible as Welch took his oath of office. Sixth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Michael J. Andrews presided over the ceremony held outside Welch’s home and City Clerk Chan Srinivasa and City Attorney Jackie Kovilaritch were also in attendance. While this is the second time Welch has contracted the virus, he still has relatively mild symptoms and said it will not interfere with his work. 

“It feels to me like a regular cold and that’s because I’m fully vaccinated and received the booster as well, so I think the science works. This is a good example of that,” he said. 

Welch will take over for former Mayor Rick Kriseman, who he credits for the current progress made in the city of St. Petersburg. 

“Our city has become an incubator for new business and technology start-ups; a pioneer in innovative problem-solving; a leader in creativity and cultural growth; a hub for medical and marine science research and discovery; and a thriving example of the live, work, play and retire lifestyle. You have positioned our city for even greater progress. I want to thank you and First Lady Kerry for your leadership of our city,” said Welch. 

In his new role, Welch plans to expand operations to help make the community run smoother, creating a new Office of Strategic Initiatives, a new city council marketing position, promoting in leadership and rolling out several initiatives including a crosswalk at a local cafe that residents have been asking for during community meetings. 

“Today we embrace the people’s desire for a community where every person is valued, every idea is considered based on its merits, and where a common vision is forged, based upon progress that is inclusive, innovative, informed, intentional and in touch with all,” Welch said during his address. 

Congratulations Mayor Welch! Because of you, we can!

Photo Courtesy of Ken Welch/The Oracle