St. Pete Deputy Mayor resigns after being accused of bullying
Stephanie Owens. Image via Creative Loafing and City of St. Pete/Flickr.

Stephanie Owens
Stephanie Owens was initially placed on leave but chose to resign. Now, her accuser says she’ll consider returning.

St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Stephanie Owens resigned following allegations of bullying from the city’s former communications director.

Owens chose to resign Friday after Mayor Ken Welch put her on leave while investigating the claims of Janelle Irwin Taylor, who accused Owens of creating a hostile work environment before abruptly resigning on Thursday.

Hours after Welch put her on leave to investigate Taylor’s claims, Owens chose to resign. In an email to Welch, the former Deputy Mayor said that it has been one of her “greatest honors” to serve the people of St. Petersburg.

“Recent events distract from our impactful and intentional work to move our great city forward, and therefore I resign in the spirit of progress, effective Sept. 9, 2022,” read the email. “I have been privileged to serve alongside committed colleagues on behalf of our city, who I know will continue to pursue the mission of equity and innovation. I look forward to continuing to be a change agent to implement that mission.”

In a memo to staff earlier Friday, Welch informed city staff that Owens had been placed on leave following Taylor’s allegations.

“Please be assured that our governing principles set a high standard for civility and professionalism, and they will be upheld,” Welch wrote. “If you experience any situation that you believe may violate our city policies on professional and ethical behavior, please notify your supervisor or the Human Resources department. We will continue to move forward.”

Taylor sent her resignation letter to the city on Thursday, referring to Owens, her direct supervisor, as being the main reason for her departure.

She had claimed that not enough was done to correct the situation after she approached Welch on Aug. 30 about the inappropriate behavior from Owens.

Friday, in conversation with Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, Taylor said that she would consider going back to the city.

“I will evaluate that if it becomes an option,” she told CL.

Taylor added that she is grateful to Mayor Welch for taking the situation seriously and ensuring an adequate investigation. “I am hopeful these events will begin a period of healing and growth,” she said.

Earlier Friday, Peter Schorsch, publisher of Florida Politics, shared a letter signed by members of Welch’s 2021 campaign, which claimed that Owens had created a toxic work environment for several people on his election team.


Republished with permission of Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.

Janelle Irwin Taylor previously contributed to Florida Politics.

Creative Loafing


  • Imah "Bull" Lee

    September 3, 2022 at 5:07 am

    How is this possible? This person is female and a person of color, both of whom by definition are victims. Yet she is accused of being a bully. Well, which one is it? Is she a double victim or a bully? I mean, for heaven’s sake, which label do we apply?
    Or maybe we just kind of catch our breath and realize that people are just people, and people make mistakes, often because they lack good emotional intelligence, and that bullies are sometimes just people who are reacting to the pressures of their positions, and that sometimes victims are just people who are reacting to the pressures of their positions, and that it is not such A BIG PUBLIC DEAL as the media likes to make it out to be, and maybe just maybe, if we all had a little more HUMILITY when it comes to our dealings with others–whether we are bullies or victims–then we might not find ourselves generating such gleeful headlines as you see here. Of course, if we are the sort of persons who LIKE to make gleeful headlines because it flatters the ego–well I guess, humility is not something that is a current attribute.

    • ron williams

      September 8, 2022 at 9:51 am

      “Bull” Lee is throwing some shade for the ‘Bully’ Owens. Looks like from here.

  • tom palmer

    September 3, 2022 at 10:02 am

    I guess that’s a long-winded way of saying some people are jerks, which is true.

Comments are closed.


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