ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It’s the day before the election for the two men running for mayor of the city of St. Petersburg.
Democrat Ken Welch has served five terms on the Pinellas County Commission.
“It’s a long journey and we are excited about tomorrow and looking forward to hearing from the people,” he said.
And Republican Robert Blackmon serves on the city council.
“I’m really excited and hopefully it will be the culmination of about 5 months of really hard work,” he said.
But just as both candidates prepare for the election, comes another tragedy in the city they hope to lead. A fight at a boxing event called “Guns Down, Gloves Up” ended with a deadly shooting. One man was killed and four others were injured.
It’s another death for the city that’s seen a spike in murders this year, closing in on 30.
Blackmon says while on the city council, he successfully fought for adding more police officers, but he also wants more opportunities for young people.
“To that end, I’ve pushed for the renovation of the science center and other youth opportunities to give kids a way out and a way to get good-paying jobs to provide for their families because somebody that’s secure in their livelihood and their finances is not somebody who will take a life,” Blackmon said.
Welch says he also supports law enforcement, but he wants to see more affordable housing and city services for the youth and homeless.
“Law enforcement can’t solve this issue by itself. We gotta be able to reach those young people, those families and connect them to positive opportunities very early and do that in some ways that we haven’t tried today,” said Welch.
St. Petersburg police arrested one man in connection with the shooting, but they say they are investigating to find others were involved.
Police say they were not contacted before the event.
The city is still looking into whether or not a permit was needed because the event took place on private property.