WASHINGTON D.C., DC — St. Petersburg Mayor-elect, Ken Welch, is in Washington D.C. to meet with senior officials within the Biden Administration.
Welch explained on Tuesday that he got the chance to sit down with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Welch said his time with Biden was efficient.
"It was straight shooting. It was what we need to do to move our country forward," Welch added.
He and other newly elected mayors had the opportunity to discuss the American Rescue Plan, the bipartisan infrastructure law and the Build Back Better agenda with White House officials. Welch met with officials from the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, among others.
“It’s an excellent opportunity to brainstorm solutions to challenges that are important to our residents, including affordable housing, climate change and investment in infrastructure," Welch explained. "We want to make sure St. Petersburg gets its share of federal dollars, and we want to build strong relationships at every level of government to ensure we are all working together to creatively address the issues that our residents have made clear are their top priorities."
One specific way the Build Back Better agenda will help people living in St. Pete is in the form of funding.
"The Build Back Better agenda focuses on housing, Pre K – those things are vital, particularly in Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg, where the cost of rental and homeownership is just going through the roof," Welch said.
"These dollars can be used to offset that to get an affordable base of housing for the long term in our community."
Another big topic that was discussed was the new infrastructure law.
"This partnership will be very important for the city of St. Petersburg as we tackle our infrastructure," Welch stated. "For example, like our integrated water resources master plan which is a 3 billion dollar plan – these federal dollars can offset that impact and hopefully reduce the increase in rates for water and stormwater that are built into that plan."
Welch traveled back to St. Pete on Wednesday.
Welch will become the mayor of St. Petersburg when he is inaugurated on January 6, 2022.