ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — St. Petersburg Mayor-Elect Ken Welch said he's ready to get to work. On Tuesday, voters elected him as their first Black mayor of St. Petersburg.
"I grew up right here on the Deuces. In the Gas Plant," Welch said.
Welch went from a kid at Melrose, the all-Black school in town during segregation, to the Mayor-Elect shaking hands and giving hugs.
After his dad ran for mayor 30 years ago, Welch won this election with 60% of the vote.
"We're the first to get this far," he said. "We've still got these firsts we're checking off the list."
Before the polls even opened, Welch told ABC Action News he was hard at work.
"I met with most of the top staff over the summer and spring, some multiple times, to talk about what their challenges are, what their priorities are," Welch said.
But he added many of those people may leave or retire. That includes current Mayor Rick Kriseman's right-hand woman Dr. Kanika Tomalin. ABC Action News asked if he had a replacement in mind.
"Not at this point, but it'll be a thorough search," he said.
The mayor-elect said he's already focused on what's next. In Wednesday's interview and prior interviews with ABC Action News, Welch touched on safety, affordable housing, revitalization and the Tropicana Field site.
And even if you didn't vote for Welch, he wants to hear from you.
"We want the best ideas from where ever they come from," Welch said. "The progress of our city depends on us working together."
Welch will be sworn-in as mayor on Jan. 6, 2022. A venue and time have yet to be announced.