Ken Welch announces staff hires, promotes long-term city employees

Ken Welch good headshot (2) 12.27.21
Welch made the recent staffing announcement after his inauguration this past Thursday.

St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch has promoted three long-serving city employees in his mayoral administration as he kicks off his term.

The staff members include Robert Gerdes, who will take the role of Assistant City Administrator; James Corbett, who will join as the Neighborhood Affairs Administrator; and Joe Zeoli, who will work as the Interim City Development Administrator.

Gerdes previously served as Neighborhood Affairs Administrator, a position he began in January 2018. He’s been with the city since 2000, also serving as the former director of the city’s Codes Compliance Department.

He also held roles in the Planning and Economic Development Department, Parks and Recreation and Downtown Enterprise Facilities.

Corbett will replace Gerdes as Neighborhood Affairs Administrator after serving as the Codes Compliance Director since 2018. He’s been with the city since 2005, including as an operations manager for Codes Compliance and an Operations Analyst.

In his role as director of Codes Compliance, Corbett led various blight reduction programs and initiatives to provide lots for affordable housing.

Zeoli has been with the city for nearly 35 years, and has been promoted from managing director of Administration and Finance to the Interim City Development Administrator. Prior to that, he served as a finance manager in City Development Administration from 1987 until 2001.

He formerly served as a system auditor for Florida Power, now Duke Energy, and as a senior accountant with the accounting firm Cherry Bekaert & Holland.

Welch made the recent staffing announcement after his inauguration this past Thursday, where he became the city’s first Black Mayor.

The new staff members will join Welch’s growing administration, which also includes Stephanie Owens, a veteran of the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama presidential administrations, who will serve as Deputy Mayor and chief of policy. Florida Politics Senior Editor Janelle Irwin Taylor will join the administration as director of communications. And Tom Greene will move from assistant city administrator to interim city administrator.

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].


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