It would be difficult to find a bigger champion for St. Petersburg than deputy mayor and city administrator Kanika Tomalin. For five generations, her family has chosen to make St. Pete their home. Now, as her two children are reaching the age where they will begin to make decisions about where their stories will unfold, she's hopeful St. Pete will be in the running. And that wish extends to everyone looking for an innovative, creative and supportive place where they can pursue their dreams. There's no doubt Tomalin will be there to welcome them with open arms and positive vibes.
Years in St. Pete
45 – born and raised in St. Petersburg
Organizations involved in
As deputy mayor and city administrator, I’m fortunate to have a hand in many organizations and efforts across the city. In many ways, I serve as an emissary between the community’s prioritized initiatives and the efforts that unfold here in City Hall. These range from the Innovation District to USF’s St. Petersburg campus Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, work with the 2020 program and One Community, the Downtown Partnership and Arts Alliance economic development strategy, the Chamber of Commerce and Grow Smarter efforts. There are many partnerships that appropriately keep me busy.
What gets you out of bed every day?
Possibilities. This amazing opportunity to create great change for my family and our community and everyone who calls St. Pete home. I couldn’t lay in bed if I tried! There’s so much to do and we’re in a such a special moment where it all feels incredibly possible. I’m excited to jump up every day.
Why St. Pete?
Why not St. Pete? St. Pete is a progressive piece of paradise that is focused with laser-like precision on attaining the fullness of its potential. It’s so awesome. We are meaningfully moving along this margin of excellence from great to iconic city, and the people who call this place home are the undeniably the reason why.
What is one habit that you keep?
Who are some people that influence you?
I think I’m most influenced by light bearers. There’s not one specific person but any kind of light bearer I’m fortunate enough to encounter. Sometimes they are my parents or my children, or a coworker or friend, or often a complete stranger. There are these moments of pure light where someone through their actions or maybe a thought or a word most highly honors the divinity of the person or group with whom they are interacting, and in that moment, you can feel the world made brighter, kinder and more decent and we move closer to our purpose. I’m so inspired by those moments because that’s when love is the undisputed champion, and in each one of those moments, I try to recommit to the mindfulness of bearing as much of my own light as I can.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
A practice I would share is the importance of meditation and the peace that it brings with whatever is happening in the now. One book I would recommend as a great tool of insight for navigating through this time of awakening is “Mountains Beyond Mountains.” It’s a profound story about a physician, Paul Farmer, who has dedicated his life to building health access and outcomes in Haiti. It’s a really transformative read that helps ground you in the understanding of the difference that one person with convictions can make for millions of others. A couple of others I would recommend include “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson and “Tyranny of Merit” by Michael Sandel. They’re both great reads for anyone who is interested in learning more about the constructs that guide much of our past and current thinking about race in America.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
One of the things I wish I’d known is that we would that we reach so many of our amazing goals that seemed almost unsurmountable at times, like decreasing African American poverty in St. Pete by 30 percent by year 2020 or finalizing construction of the Pier in the middle of a pandemic or building stronger trust between our police department and our community. If i’d known how many shots we’d sink, I would have gone for even more balls.
Who knows? But I cannot wait to see.