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St. Pete spokesperson resigns, will answer her ‘calling’

Mark Parker

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Erica Riggins (center), public information officer for the City of St. Petersburg, is resigning from the position after 18 months. Photo: City of St. Petersburg.

Erica Riggins, public information officer for the City of St. Petersburg, will resign after serving 18 months as a key member of Mayor Ken Welch’s administration.

Welch announced her departure, effective May 2, on social media Friday morning. Riggins will return to Spectrum Bay News 9 as a reporter.

She was an early morning news fixture at the station for nearly 17 years before taking the municipal post in October 2022. In his post, Welch called Riggins a “local news legend whose gift for storytelling was known to millions across Tampa Bay.”

“I’m very thankful to Mayor Welch for all the opportunities and the professional career growth that I’ve received here with the City of St. Pete,” Riggins told the Catalyst. “News is in my blood, journalism is my calling, so I’m excited I have the opportunity to go back.

“And go back home to Bay News 9, where I spent more than two decades of my life and career.”

Riggins said she considered leaving the city “over time.” She noted that her former bosses, who hired her in December 2005, still oversee the outlet.

Riggins said they have remained mentors and friends. “It’s not like they were ever really out of my life because they are like family,” she added.

Welch shared a picture of her children – who will turn 6, 7, and 8 in May. Riggins adopted the siblings through the Heart Gallery of Pinellas and Pasco in June 2021.

She said the public information officer role was “great for me personally and great for my three boys, and I’ve grown professionally. But again, journalism always spoke to me.”

Riggins began her TV news career in Austin, Texas, in January 2001. She is unsure of her new shift or coverage area in her second stint with Bay News 9, which starts May 6.

It also remains unclear how the City will fill her role. Welch wrote that Riggins’ “media and communication expertise have uplifted our team’s work and our ability to be ‘In Touch’ with our community.”

“I fully support her decision to return to reporting at her other home – Spectrum Bay News 9,” Welch added. “Wishing her and her boys good luck and Godspeed!”

Riggins is the second spokesperson to leave the city under Welch. Janelle Irwin Taylor abruptly resigned Sept. 1, 2022, due to an alleged “culture of bullying” fostered by former Deputy Mayor Stephanie Owens, who denied the claims and resigned a day later.

Riggins stressed that she did not experience any workplace conflicts. She considers Welch and city administrators part of her “extended family, just as I consider Bay News 9 my family.”

“There are no comparisons there,” Riggins said.

Riggins earned $150,000 annually as the city’s public information officer. When asked what she would take from her current position to her new role, she said, “Relationships.”

From left: Erica Riggins, public information office for the City of St. Petersburg, Dr. Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Princeton University professor; and Ethel Peeples-Robinson, president of the St. Petersburg Metropolitan Section of the National Council of Negro Women at the 38th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Awards Breakfast. Photo by Mark Parker.

In her resignation letter, Riggins noted that Welch spoke to her about the “powerful impact of making a difference in the lives of residents in St. Pete and Opportunities for all. You had me at ‘impact!’

“It’s been an impactful journey working with you directly, along with our city leadership team, on the Historic Gas Plant District redevelopment, numerous affordable housing initiatives, community conversations, two State of the City addresses, and so much more,” Riggins continued. “While I will be returning home to Spectrum Bay News 9 to fully embrace my love for storytelling and making deeper, impactful connections within its seven-county viewing area … please know that I do so with a love for our city team and all the relationships that I’ve made along the way. We Are St. Pete!”

 

 

 

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Darlene Bennett

    June 3, 2024at10:26 am

    So very happy she is returning we go back many years remember her Dad was a dear policeman (one of the first).

  2. Avatar

    S. Rose Smith-Hayes

    April 8, 2024at9:45 pm

    I was surprised that she left her News job and I am not surprised that she is going back. So thankful for her.

  3. Avatar

    Danny White

    April 7, 2024at12:02 pm

    Nooooooooooo! I have admired and respected Erica for over a decade at BN9 followed by getting to see her in action as City Spokesperson, with the added bonus of getting to know her more personally at City events. Selfishly, I’ve missed her on BN9, so this move brings her full circle, yet leaves a huge void for the City. God bless her and the wonderful young men who call her mom.

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