NewsPinellas County


Women dominate St. Pete City Council, setting new record

Council now has 2 black women, youngest member
Posted at 10:19 AM, Jan 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-02 17:29:26-05

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Who runs the world? Girls. At least in St. Petersburg.

The city of St. Pete is making history in 2020. Thursday, St. Pete City Council will welcome two new members: Deborah Figgs-Sanders and Robert Blackmon.

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For the first time, St. Pete will have 6 female city council members, two black females serving at the same time and the youngest council member in the city's history.

Robert Blackmon is just 30 years old, representing the first millennial to serve the city.

Deborah Figgs-Sanders is joining Lisa Wheeler-Bowman Thursday as the second female African American on the council. She's also the first African American to lead as a councilmember in District 5.

The new council members replace Steve Kornell and Cherlie Gerdes, who both hit the maximum number of terms.

Council members tell ABC Action News reporter Sarah Hollenbeck they hope the diversity on city council will help them guide the city on making changes that will help women, minorities and people of all ages succeed.

“I'm so humbled and honored to join this council," Figgs Sanders said with a smile. "This will help to ensure that all of those who don’t have the opportunity to have a voice are represented.”

Brandi Gabbard, a returning city council member, chimed in: “I think that we’ve really turned a corner and people can feel that their council is relatable and understands their issues.”

Blackmon said he was surprised to learn that he is the youngest person in history to be elected in St. Pete. “I just learned that today. It's an honor. I truly think this council’s makeup shows that everyone is welcome here," he explained.

St. Pete stands out from other, nearby cities in Tampa Bay. In Clearwater, all four city council members are white men.

In Tampa, there is a female mayor, but all 7 city council members are men.