In November 2021, Ken Welch won more than 60 percent of the vote in the race for mayor and will become the first African American mayor of St. Petersburg when he takes office on January 6. Ken is a unifying leader who believes in building partnerships and working toward a common goal of authentic progress for every neighborhood.
Growing up in St. Petersburg's Gas Plant area, Ken Welch worked summers and after school at his grandfather's lumber yard, which was later displaced by Interstate 275. He saw first-hand the uprooting of hundreds of businesses, homes and churches on land where Tropicana Field was eventually constructed in the 1980s to attract a Major League Baseball franchise. He also saw the unfulfilled promises of jobs and economic development.
After receiving a Bachelor's Degree from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and an MBA from Florida A&M University, Ken returned to St. Petersburg as an accountant for Florida Power Corp. He later served as technology manager for his father's accounting firm.
After years of community service, Ken was elected to the Pinellas County Commission in 2000 and became the second African American commissioner in the county's history. He was subsequently re-elected to four consecutive terms. Commissioner Welch served as commission chair in 2006, 2013 and 2018. His 20 years of service brought a sharp focus to justice reform, poverty reduction, housing, transportation, environmental protection, community and economic development, and homeless services.
As a commissioner, Ken led the effort to create the first Pinellas Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) focused on poverty reduction. The South St. Petersburg CRA is the first of its kind in Pinellas and is expected to generate more than $100 million in county and city funding to reduce poverty over the 30 years.
A third-generation St. Petersburg resident, Ken lives with his wife of 30 years, Donna, and their two daughters