ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — In just a few weeks Ken Welch will become St. Petersburg’s next mayor.
Later this week, Welch is planning to hold a series of what he’s calling “Community Conversations” as an opportunity for the public to hear his thoughts on key issues and for him to listen to their suggestions.
“We want to listen and then we want to act on that,” said the incoming mayor.
As St. Petersburg’s 54th Mayor, Welch is also St. Petersburg’s first African American to hold the position.
That’s important since there are several issues currently impacting the city’s African American community including a rash of crime, a perceived lack of economic opportunity, and a desperate need for more affordable housing.
“As a kid who grew up on the Deuces, around the gas plant, I’ve lived this experience,” said Welch. “And we want to be intentional about equity, about us all moving forward together. And that really means listening to the folks who are most impacted.”
During his campaign, Welch made affordable housing a key issue.
He says he intends to make it his new city administrator’s top priority, working with developers to construct more affordable units and cutting through the red tape to get it done faster.
“Expediting our planning and permitting,” said Welch. “Because every day that’s extended that increases the cost of the development.”
Violent crime has also been a big concern in St. Petersburg. Programs exist, but advocates say the city needs a leader to bring them together.
Welch says he’s prepared to do just that.
“It’s not antagonistic. It’s not a zero-sum game. If we agree on what the goal is, then we should be able to work together to make that happen,” he said. “We’ve got to have a holistic approach to a child that we want to educate. If they’re coming from a home where they are hungry, or they are the key caregiver, or they don’t have transportation. All those things we have to look at to have a holistic approach.”
Welch’s Community conversations will include topics such as education and youth, equitable development and business, neighborhood health and safety, environment, infrastructure, and resilience and housing opportunities for all.
The sessions are being held:
- Friday, Dec. 10: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at USF St. Pete
- Saturday, Dec. 11: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.at USF St. Pete
- Monday, Dec. 13: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. (virtually)
Each community conversation will accommodate up to 300 people. Participants will be broken up into smaller groups for 30-minute brainstorm sessions.
You can find more info and register to participate here.
“I am very excited. Glad to get back to work,” said Welch. “We’ve got a full plate, but the opportunities out there for our committee are great. And we just need to work together to make that happen.”