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Ken Welch honored for 20 years on Pinellas County Commission

Margie Manning



Ken Welch

Nov. 12, 2020 was proclaimed “Commissioner Kenneth T. Welch Day” in Pinellas County, as the Board of County Commissioners and others honored the 20-year commissioner on his last day of service on the board.

Welch stepped down and will be succeeded by Rene Flowers on the commission. Welch is expected to run for St. Petersburg mayor in 2021.

Welch was first elected to the newly created District 7 seat in 2000, and re-elected in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016. He served as commission chair three times — in 2006, 2013 and 2018.

“During his 20-year career as county commissioner, he has served on numerous boards focused on diverse community issues including community and economic development, housing, transportation, poverty reduction, and public safety,” the proclamation said.

A video presentation by Ginger Delegal, executive director of the Florida Association of Counties, recognized Welch for his work with that group.

“You have led all the counties in this state during times of great importance, like during the juvenile justice cost shift, the Medicaid cost share past billing problems, many hurricanes and one catastrophic oil spill,” Delegal said.

Flowers, along with Sen. Darryl Rouson and St. Petersburg City Council member Deborah Figgs-Sanders, gave Welch a framed photo, commemorating his work on justice issues.

Photo credit: Deborah Figgs-Sanders

Several commissioners thanked Welch for his service.

“Whether you were the lead person or the collaborator, your fingerprints and your input is on every success this county has had in the last 20 years,” said Commissioner Charlie Justice.

Commissioner Dave Eggers called Welch “a thoughtful person, someone who is always prepared, always involved, gracious in your assistance with me and with everyone, family man, spiritual … All of those attributes make you the leader you are.”

“I’ve always appreciated your ability to see through the nonsense and come up with clear decisions, unemotional decisions, things that were best for this community, always, always, always,” Commission Chair Pat Gerard said. 

Commissioner Kathleen Peters, who recently clashed with Welch when he used a Black Lives Matter sign as a virtual background on a Zoom call, thanked him for his public service and mentorship to many people, and told Flowers she would have big shoes to fill. Both Peters and Commissioner Janet Long, who political observers have said is the closest in philosophy to Welch, wished him well on his future adventures.

Welch said he is proud of how the Board of County Commissioners has guided Pinellas through the Covid-19 pandemic, Hurricane Eta and other challenges. He praised the board’s panel on moving the county forward.

“You might not know that ‘Progressive Pinellas’ has been the mantra for Pinellas for years. It was the mantra before I came in. It’s not a partisan statement. It’s about progress, moving us forward,” Welch said. “Whether it’s Dave from North County or me from South County, we don’t get caught up in partisanship. We get caught up in what’s right for this county moving forward.”

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