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Mayoral Race in St. Petersburg to End in Runoff

August 25, 2021 by Dan McCue
Ken Walsh (left) and Roboert Blackmon (right) will square off in a November runoff for St. Petersburgh mayor. (Photos via KenWelch.com; Blackmon4StPete.com)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Ken Welch, a longtime county commissioner in Pinellas County, Florida, will face Robert Blackmon, a St. Petersburg City councilman, in a November runoff that will determine which of the two men is the city’s next mayor.

That’s because neither broke the magic 50% threshold of support in a primary held Tuesday night.

Though the results are still unofficial, as of Wednesday morning, Welch was the top vote-getter, Tuesday with 39% of the vote, while Blackmon received 29%.

The winner of the runoff election, to be held Nov. 2, will replace outgoing Mayor Rick Kriseman, who could not seek re-election due to term limits.

If he’s elected in November, Welch would become the city’s first Black mayor.

On Tuesday night he said the fact he is in the position he is now “shows what can be achieved in our nation, based on qualifications.”

He noted that it wasn’t so long ago that he was the only second Black county commissioner in Pinellas County history.

“So we’re still breaking barriers, but we are making progress,” he said.

St. Petersburg City Council member Darden Rice came in third on Tuesday night, receiving 17% of the vote, and former state Representative Wengay Newton was fourth, with 7%.

Welch told supporters that he’s looking forward to the election campaign that will now extend into the fall.

“Well, we’re feeling good. We think our message of inclusive progress and straight talk resonated with the citizens of St. Pete,” he said.

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