Ken Welch loses another comms staffer as Erica Riggins heads back to Bay News 9
Image via Ken Welch, X.

Erica Riggins
Riggins' last day will be May 2.

Erica Riggins, the Public Information Officer for the city of St. Petersburg who serves under Mayor Ken Welch, is leaving her position fewer than two years after being hired.

She will return to Bay News 9 where she worked for nearly 20 years, including as the station’s morning anchor. Riggins’ last day with the city will be May 2. The city does not yet have plans for her replacement.

Riggins gushed about her time working in the Welch administration in her letter of resignation, dated April 3.

“Before joining your city team nearly two years ago, you spoke to me about the powerful impact of making a difference in the lives of residents in St. Pete and Opportunities for All. You had me at ‘impact,’” she wrote.

“It’s been an impactful journey working with you directly, along with our city leadership team, on the Historic Gas Plant District redevelopment, numerous affordable housing initiatives, community conversations, two State of the City addresses, and so much more.”

Riggins said she is leaving her role to “fully embrace” her “love for storytelling and making deeper, impactful connections within its seven-county viewing area.”

In a post announcing her departure on X, Welch expressed his gratitude for her work.

“Her media and communications expertise have uplifted our team’s work and our ability to be ‘In Touch’ with our community,” Welch wrote. “I fully support her decision to return to reporting at her other home — Spectrum Bay News 9.”

Welch wished Riggins and her three sons good luck.

Riggins is the second communications staffer to resign from Welch’s administration since he was inaugurated in early 2022. Welch originally hired Janelle Irwin Taylor, a former editor for Florida Politics who now serves as publisher of its sister publication, Southeast Politics, as his Communications Director.

She resigned abruptly nine months into the administration citing a hostile work environment created by then-Deputy Mayor Stephanie Owens who resigned immediately after Taylor made allegations public in her letter of resignation. Welch later eliminated the Deputy Mayor position and instead elevated a senior advisor, Doyle Walsh, to Chief of Staff.

Later that month, Welch announced he was hiring two communications staffers — Riggins as the PIO and Alizza Punzalan-Randle as managing director for communications and community engagement.

Riggins was hired at a $150,000 a year salary, $23,000 more than Taylor. It’s unclear what Riggins’ salary will be when she returns to Bay News 9.

Riggins did not immediately elaborate on what her role will be with Bay News 9.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


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