Democrats Win Mayor's Office and All Open Council Seats
Saint Petersburg made history last night. By wide margins, voters elected Ken Welch as the city’s first African American Mayor and Lisette Gonzalez Hanewicz, the daughter of Cuban exiles, as its first Hispanic City Council member. The election of Ritchie Floyd means that City Council now includes three African American representatives -- Floyd, Lisa Wheeler-Bowman and Deborah Figgs-Sanders -- and, with the reelection of Brandi Gabbard and Gina Driscoll, a five-woman majority. Copley Gerdes’ victory in District 1 brings a total of three new members to a Council that will make major decisions shaping the City for decades to come. See Ken Welch's remarks on his first day as mayor-elect here.
For Democrats, the election was a clean sweep. Although municipal elections are non-partisan, all of the victorious candidates are registered Democrats. Lucinda Johnston, Chair of the Pinellas Democratic Party, said “we expect that this Council will represent the hard-working people of St. Petersburg above special interests and wealthy corporations. Equity, economic opportunity and social justice are high on the Democratic agenda, and we will see continued progress and many advances in those areas in the next few years.”
“Just as important,” Johnston said, “this election is a taste of things to come. Democrats are energized and voters are responding to our message to make Florida work for all Floridians, not just the privileged few.” In 2022, Florida will elect a governor, a U.S. Senator, multiple Congressional representatives, including two from Pinellas County, a large portion of the state legislature, and numerous municipal officers. Johnston promised, “we aim to compete for every one of those seats and offer Pinellas County and Florida voters a real choice. We believe that people are sick of the failed Republican policies that have created environmental crises, needless suffering from COVID, and economic hardship for hard working Floridians. The governor certainly plans to run for President, but he isn’t going to do it from our governor’s mansion in Tallahassee.”
“Tuesday’s election in St. Petersburg is a strong message from Florida’s people to elected officials: Democrats are united and committed to taking back our state and nation,” Johnston said.