07 Feb The State of The City: St. Petersburg
In celebration of Black History Month, we are pleased to welcome Kenneth T. Welch, St. Petersburg’s first African American mayor, for a State of the City. Mayor Welch’s appearance at BPW will be on the heels of his first official State of the City address delivered to the community at-large.
After Kenneth T. Welch was sworn in as the 54th mayor of St. Petersburg on January 6, 2022, he established a vision whereby, “St. Petersburg will be a diverse, vibrant city guided by principled progress and intentional inclusivity, where innovation, partnerships and ingenuity create opportunity for all.” Growing up in the Gas Plant area, Ken worked summers and after school on his grandfather’s woodyard that sat on property later displaced by the interstate. His father was a city council member who helped lay the foundation for St. Petersburg’s resurgence. Ken saw firsthand the uprooting of hundreds of businesses, homes, and churches for what eventually became Tropicana Field. He also saw the unfulfilled promises of jobs and economic development in return for that sacrifice.
Upon receiving his BA from USF St. Petersburg and MBA from Florida A&M University, Ken returned to St. Petersburg as an accountant for Florida Power Corporation. He also served as Technology Manager for his father’s small accounting firm. Following many years of community service, Ken became the first commissioner elected to represent County Commission District 7 in St. Petersburg, only the second African American commissioner in the history of Pinellas County. Ken proudly served on the County Commission for 20 years, where he brought a focus to the issues of economic development, transportation, equity, housing, criminal justice reform, and fighting poverty. A third-generation resident of St. Petersburg, Ken and his wife, Donna, have two daughters.