St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch worked his first day in City Hall Thursday, one week after being virtually sworn in.
Days before his scheduled inauguration, Welch tested positive for COVID-19, forcing the virtual ceremony. He was sworn in from the lawn of his Lakewood Estates home in a ceremony broadcast to the city.
“I am excited to be in City Hall today for the first time as your Mayor. My thanks to all of you who helped make my virtual inauguration such a success,” Welch said in a news release. “Now, it’s time to get to work for the city we love. We have already started to undertake important work and initiatives that will affect the lives of our residents on a daily basis.”
One of his first official acts in City Hall was presenting Tom Greene to the City Council for confirmation as interim City Administrator. Greene has been an assistant city administrator since 2018 and was the city’s budget director before that.
Despite the COVID-19 diagnoses, Welch had been performing the duties of Mayor virtually. And he has set an ambitious agenda for the start of his administration.
“In the coming weeks and months, Mayor Welch will continue work on a robust agenda that includes guiding the city through the current omicron spike of the COVID-19 pandemic; addressing affordable and workforce housing and rising rents and home prices; increasing equity, jobs, and community development; responding to climate resiliency and infrastructure needs; and ensuring safe neighborhoods,” Communications Director Janelle Irwin Taylor said in a news release.
The release also outlined the guiding principles Welch will use to navigate his leadership of the city. He calls it the “Six I’s.”
— Being In-touch: hands-on and active in the community with collaboration with City Council.
— Inclusive: Every constituent will be heard and every employee valued.
— Informed decision-making: Guided by best practices, facts, science, and our city’s history.
— Innovation: Utilizing new technologies, ideas and creative partnerships to improve service delivery and implement more effective solutions to community challenges.
— Intentional Equity: Incorporate equity into all city policies to ensure growth benefits the entire community.
— Community Impact: Measure each decision with one key question: Will it improve the quality of life for the people of St. Petersburg?
Welch has made equity and diversity a significant part of his administration’s early messaging despite St. Pete voters in November saying no to a charter amendment that would’ve created an equity framework and chief equity officer position.
“When we listen to each other, and work to truly understand our viewpoints, we grow stronger collectively by building on our individual knowledge and strengths. When we do that, we will move past silos, prejudices and petty politics, and we will be able to build an inclusive path forward,” Welch said in remarks after being sworn in last week. “The conversations may not be comfortable or easy. But as we demonstrated at our community conversations last month — it can be done; in fact, it must be done because we are in this together.”