Oct 20, 2021 - Politics
St. Pete mayoral candidates square off
St. Pete mayoral candidates Ken Welch (left) and Robert Blackmon (right) facing off in a mayoral battle.
St. Pete mayoral candidates Ken Welch (left) and Robert Blackmon (right) facing off. Photo: Bay News 9

Last night's mayoral debate was the spiciest one yet.

Why it matters: While Ken Welch and Robert Blackmon went tit for tat about endorsements, track records and controversies, we kept track of the promises they're making to St. Pete.

Climbing homicide rate: Blackmon said that, in the short term, St. Pete needs more policing. Long term, he stressed more economic opportunities for young people and named the St. Petersburg Science Center as a place to grow those opportunities.

  • Welch retorted that the Science Center is miles away from problem areas. He said he's already combating the problem with youth summits and plans to upgrade community centers.

Rising housing costs: Welch said he'd aggressively draw down the $100 million the housing trust fund acquired to get more people in affordable housing and get the NTM1 zoning for duplexes and triplexes moved through city council.

  • Blackmon wants to "get people off the rental rollercoaster" with a city-backed mortgage program and focus on buying old condo units for affordable housing.

Charter Amendment 1, which would change the way City Council is elected: Blackmon is undecided. Welch votes no.

Streetside dining return: Welch said he wants a cost-benefit analysis. Blackmon would bring it back with a much larger permit fee.

Electric scooters: Blackmon said he's never ridden one and wants to use income from scooters to fund better transportation efforts.

  • When asked if he'd ridden a scooter, Welch responded, "I ride a Harley, so no." He said the city needs more multimodal options.
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