St. Petersburg Mayor-elect Ken Welch is hosting a series of “Community Conversations” in December to hear from residents about their vision for the city’s future ahead of his inauguration on Jan. 6.
The forums will be at the University of South Florida St. Pete Student Center. One of the three sessions will also be held virtually for those who cannot attend in-person.
“Listening to our community is my top priority and one of the most important things we can do,” Welch said in a statement. “This is a great opportunity for our residents to come together to share strategies and ideas to make our great city a better place to live for all.”
The “Community Conversations” will be open to the public and are sponsored by the St. Pete Downtown Partnership and the Foundation for a Healthy St. Pete.
“We are thrilled to help support these community conversations,” Jason Mathis, CEO of the St. Pete Downtown Partnership, said in a statement. “We know the importance of community engagement and we are delighted, but not surprised, to see the Welch Administration start out with this important effort. We look forward to working with Mayor-elect Welch and supporting an incredible period of equitable and sustainable growth in our community over the next several years.”
Residents can weigh-in on five areas at the event, including education and youth opportunities; equitable development and business opportunities; neighborhood health and safety; environment, infrastructure and resilience; and housing opportunities for all.
“Listening to the lived experience of City residents is critical to advance the health outcomes for all of us,” Randall H. Russell, CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy St. Pete, said in a statement. “This effort illustrates a drive to lift the voices of all residents, including those most often not heard. The Foundation deeply believes listening to hear, learn, and respond is vital to an involved citizenry.”
Each session will begin with opening remarks from Mayor-elect Welch. After, participants will break into smaller groups for 30-minute discussions on each of the five transition topics. The event will close with everyone coming together to share key ideas.
Professional facilitators will lead the program with the World Cafe systems-thinking model.
The events will be offered from 1 to 4 p.m. on Dec. 10, from 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 11, and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 13. The Dec. 13 meeting will also offer a virtual option.
Welch will replace incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, who is leaving office because of term limits, at his inauguration in January. He will be the city’s first Black Mayor after defeating City Council member Robert Blackmon in the November General Election.
Residents can sign up for the events here, with each session able to accommodate 300 people.