Former Sen. Arthenia Joyner, a political and civil rights icon in the Tampa Bay area, is endorsing former Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch for St. Petersburg Mayor.
Joyner represented St. Pete and Tampa for 10 years in the state Legislature.
“Ken Welch is a man of honor, integrity, and principles, and I proudly support him for Mayor,” Joyner said. “In the many years I have known him, he has never wavered in his commitment to the St. Petersburg community, an unbreakable bond forged over three generations. That history is his foundation and inspiration for the future he is intent on building, and the values he will follow to get us there.”
Joyner is a renowned civil rights leader who was arrested multiple times for challenging injustice. She broke down numerous racial barriers throughout her career, including becoming the first Black woman lawyer to practice in Hillsborough County. She later was selected to serve as President of the National Bar Association.
Joyner was also the first Black woman to serve as Senate Minority Leader. She is currently the longest practicing Black woman lawyer in Florida.
“Sen. Joyner is an icon in Florida, and I am so humbled and honored to have her support,” Welch said. “As a son of St. Petersburg, I feel a responsibility to help this entire community meet its potential through principled progress. Together, we will make history just as Sen. Joyner has so often.”
Welch is considered a frontrunner in the race to replace current Mayor Rick Kriseman. His top competition is St. Pete City Council member Darden Rice. The two are polling neck and neck, with Rice leading slightly in the Primary Election field. Welch is leading in a hypothetical General Election runoff against Rice.
The Primary Election, which also includes former state. Rep. Wengay Newton and a handful of lesser known candidates, is Aug. 24. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two vote-getters will move onto the Nov. 2 General Election.