ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – St. Petersburg Mayor-elect Ken Welch says he’s ready to get to work. Welch, a Democrat and former long-time county commissioner, declared victory in the race shortly after the polls closed last night. He will be the first Black mayor in the history of St. Petersburg.
He hopes that will have a positive influence on children.
“Just talking to young folks, there is a glow in their eye when they know you are, even a mayoral candidate,” said the Mayor-elect. “Yes you can do this and yes he’s a real person that you can talk to. That is going to be a tool that I use as much as I can to let kids know that anything is possible. “
Supporters are excited about the victory and hope when Welch takes office, change will follow. Ricky Rimes says he is hopeful.
“I hope he does some changes that he’s talking about doing,” said Rimes. “That will make things a little better.”
But some voters in a predominantly Black neighborhood in St. Petersburg steered away from the polls. Thomas Costin was one of them.
“I didn’t vote for him, no,” said Costin, who urged his friends to follow suit. “I told other people that I know, don’t vote for him. “
Costin’s main gripe, he rarely sees Welch out and about in his neighborhood, despite his strong St. Petersburg roots.
“You couldn’t, from here to 22nd Street. You couldn’t find 20 people who could say, oh yeah, I’ve seen him in my neighborhood,” said Costin. “Across 34th street, nobody knows his name. They don’t see him in their neighborhood.”
Costin says, despite his strong pre-election day feelings, he’s willing to give the new guy a chance.
“I have hope, we all have hope that he can do something here,” said Costin. “We’re not looking for him to give us no money or nothing, but make preparations for the homeless people over here that’s hanging around on the streets every day, do something about that. “.