Ken Welch Win as St. Petersburg’s First Black Mayor Is Nod to Father

In Summary

Ken Welch made history Tuesday night when he became the first Black mayor of St. Petersburg, a win that is sure to make his father proud.

History was made across the United States on November 2, as many cities elected their first Black mayor, governor and lieutenant governor, but Ken Welch’s mayoral win in St. Petersburg, Florida, is historic for reasons far beyond race. 

Welch’s father David unsuccessfully ran to be the first Black mayor of the once-segregated St. Petersburg 30 years ago, a milestone he acknowledged in his victory speech Tuesday while wearing his father’s campaign button, per the Associated Press

RELATED: Winsome Sears Will Be First Woman of Color in Virginia’s Lt. Gov. History 

He claimed his father received death threats and racial insults during his 1991 mayoral campaign, recalling how that experience “taught me what real strength and courage looks like and the value of perseverance,” per AP. 

“For me, making history without making a positive impact is an empty achievement,” Welch said. “Our election victory must be followed by a purposeful agenda of accountability and intentional equity for our entire community.” 

A third-generation citizen of St. Petersburg, Welch received his B.A. from USFSP and his MBA from Florida A&M University. He’s worked for Florida Power Corporation as an accountant and for his father’s small accounting firm as the technology manager. He was also the second African American commissioner ever to be elected to represent County Commission District 7 in St. Petersburg, a role he served in for 20 years. 

RELATED: Democrat Ed Gainey Makes History as First Black Mayor of Pittsburgh 

Welch’s primary focus as mayor is to improve the quality of life across St. Petersburg through effective public safety, environmental protection, economic opportunity, youth empowerment and growth initiatives, per his website

As someone who is said to be “the perfect person for the job,” he received slightly over 60% of the vote in Tuesday’s election, easily defeating Republican challenger Robert Blackmon by over 14,000 votes. He assumes office on January 6, 2022.

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