Mayor Welch speaks on the future of St. Pete

The State of the City address took place Jan. 30, at city hall downtown.


On a sunny Monday morning, all the residents of the downtown area around City Hall could hear were the sound of proud drums and brass alongside the chants of “We Are St. Pete,” as the mayor’s State of the City address began.

At precisely 11 a.m., Jan. 30, attendees of this private event got to hear the State of the City Address, spoken by St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch to around 150 individuals regarding the future of the city, praising last year’s accomplishments and more. The address was following performances by the Gibbs High School Jazz Band, the Lakewood Marching Band, the Bay Point Elementary Choir, a spoken word poetry performance and prayers led by a variety of religious leaders. This event was broadcast to local television stations as well.

Preceding the mayor’s address, a variety of local government leaders also spoke, such as city council chair Brandi Gabbard.

Gabbard spoke on the topics the city council will be focusing on in the upcoming year such as inadequate housing, unemployment, financial stability, food and water security, health of the individual and the destroying of systematic discrimination throughout the city. Many of these efforts are continued from previous years, and Gabbard and her coworkers are confident that they can bring positive change in the current year.

“I am so honored to represent such a diverse group of leaders,” Gabbard said.

Another thing the city government highlighted was their six principles for decision-making, also known as “The Six I’s.” In-touch leadership, inclusive governance, informed decision making, innovation, intentional equity and community impact are all things they strive for as an institution, as said on Jan. 30.

The mayor came out to speak around 11:30 a.m. with the event concluding at noon.

Welch devoted time to thanking those who have supported him and his campaign – included but not limited to his family, his coworkers and the citizens of the city – along with things the city has accomplished this past year and the things they plan to achieve.

“We are guided by an overarching goal, our north star: progress for all, progress that provides opportunities for everyone to move forward while leaving no part of our city behind,” Welch said.

They are also guided by their self-proclaimed Five Pillars of Progress: Education and Youth Opportunities, Equitable Development of Arts and Business Opportunities, Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, Housing Opportunities for All and lastly, Environment, Infrastructure and Resilience.

“The We in ‘We Are St. Pete’ means all of us,” Welch said.

One of the biggest projects of the upcoming year is the rejuvenation of the Historic Gas Plant District of St. Petersburg. This projected ten-year project will be a partnership between the city government, Hines and Tampa Bay Rays.

“The work of our city team upholds the foundation of our cities and empowers . . . the community to excel at doing what they do best. Artists can create, teachers can educate, innovators can innovate and businesses can provide the products and services that enhance our quality of life,” Welch said.

Closing the address was another performance by the Lakewood Marching Band.

One of those band members, junior Liam O’Neill, says he prides himself on the fact that the Spartans’ performances went rather smoothly. While he does not know a lot about politics, or even that there was an event like this, he agrees it included important information – even if it was a bit long and wordy. O’Neill is looking forward to the reviving of the Historic Gas Plant District.

“They included a lot of acts . . . it was very inclusive of the community,” O’Neill said.