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The work begins: Mayor-Elect Ken Welch talks crime, affordable housing following victory

Neighborhood safety and affordable housing are two key issues Welch campaigned under during his run.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla — St. Petersburg Mayor-Elect Ken Welch won't officially take office until January but the work has already begun for the city's first Black mayor.

On the issue of affordable housing, Welch is promising to use more money from the city's affordable housing trust fund and Penny for Pinellas. The goal is to create more affordable spaces without using most of the people's income.

"My vision is revitalization and inclusive equitable redevelopment," Welch said. "We've got to be more intentional about affordable housing on the ground." 

In regard to how his plans differ from the current administration, Welch said through his proposals, he would bring more of a sense of urgency to the housing crisis. Welch cited funding sources from community redevelopment funds, and "Neighborhood Traditional Mixed Residential" housing as other options.

When it comes to addressing gun violence and crime, Welch said he supports having a fully funded and staffed police force but said that won't be enough.

"You could put a thousand more police on the ground and you can't change a child who sees no opportunity," Welch said. 

The mayor-elect adds that it's important to reach children early and connect them with opportunities to avoid the possibility of future offenses.

St. Pete Police Chief Anthony Holloway said he's urging parents to have conversations with their children because law enforcement can't solve the issue alone. 

"The parents need to be involved with this. The community needs to be involved in this," Holloway said, a message that echoes throughout different local community organizations.

Already, the city has reported 29 homicides this year; 27 of which involve gun use, according to the St. Petersburg Police Department.

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