Former Mayor Bill Foster backs Ken Welch in St. Pete mayoral race

Welch, Ken - 3
Foster, a Republican, served as Mayor of St. Petersburg from 2010 to 2014.

Former Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch has picked up another mayoral endorsement, this time from former St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster.

Foster, a Republican who served as Mayor of St. Petersburg from 2010 to 2014, is supporting the Democratic candidate citing Welch’s experience in the community.

“We’re at a pivotal moment in St. Petersburg and solidifying our next chapter demands a leader with experience and deep roots in our community — a leader with the conviction that we are at our best when we all work together,” Foster said in a statement. “That’s why I could not be more excited to support my friend Ken Welch for Mayor.”

Foster went on to praise Welch’s work on the County Commission, specifically his efforts to protect first responders.

“When Ken was a County Commissioner he led the charge to save our fire/EMS system from drastic cuts that would have harmed St. Petersburg residents. Ken knew our first responders needed the right amount of personnel and equipment to keep us safe — and he never stopped fighting for it,” Foster added. “We worked together to implement a fair and sustainable funding system for our Fire/EMS teams on the front lines. We are safer today because of Ken’s leadership and with his continued service to our community I feel confident in the success of St. Pete’s future.”

Foster joins current Democratic Mayor Rick Kriseman in endorsing Welch, strengthening bipartisan support. Kriseman, who is term-limited, announced his support Monday, a significant nod in the upcoming election.

“Bill Foster has proven time and time again that leadership is about making tough decisions,” Welch said in a statement. “During his time as Mayor he was a consistent partner and supporter for the residents of St. Petersburg and the region. I’m proud to receive the support of my good friend and partner in progress and look forward to expanding upon his legacy as your next Mayor.”

Welch, who is a front-runner in the race, has also garnered endorsements from former Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard, Gulfport Mayor Samuel Henderson, Dunedin Mayor Julie Bujalski and Tarpon Springs Mayor David Archie. Hibbard and Archie are both Republicans, the rest Democrats.

The new endorsement from another St. Pete Mayor comes as opponent and City Council member Darden Rice has doubled down on attempts to tie Welch to former President Donald Trump via campaign mailers paid for by her associated political committee, Friends of Darden Rice.

The mailers pointed to some Welch donors who had ties to the Republican Party. Welch and supporters immediately took to social media decrying the mailer as hypocritical. Rice’s donor list includes numerous Republican donors, some of whom publicly supported the former President.

Rice’s mailers come as Welch leads the race, with Rice tied for the No. 2 spot with fellow Council member Robert Blackmon and former state Rep. Wengay Newton.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].

One comment

  • Ron Ogden

    July 25, 2021 at 5:40 pm

    “. . .and Tarpon Springs Mayor David Archie.”
    David Archie is not the mayor of Tarpon Springs. Chris Alahouzos is. David Archie is a former mayor. Check your facts.

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