Sep 6, 2022 - News

St. Petersburg deputy mayor and communications director resign

Stephanie Owens

Stephanie Owens. Screenshot courtesy of St. Petersburg/YouTube

After allegations of a "hostile work environment," St. Petersburg no longer has a deputy mayor and communications director.

Driving the news: Janelle Irwin Taylor, the city's communications director, resigned Thursday, citing a lack of response to a "hostile work environment, lack of communication or guidance and overall culture of bullying" from deputy mayor Stephanie Owens in her resignation letter, the Tampa Bay Business Journal reports.

  • Owens resigned the next day, hours after Mayor Ken Welch put her on administrative leave.

Why it matters: The mayor now has two big seats to fill less than a year into his tenure.

  • Yolanda Fernandez, the St. Petersburg Police Department's communications director, is handling the city's communications temporarily.

What they're saying: In an email notifying his staff that Owens was placed on administrative leave, Welch wrote, "​​Please be assured that our governing principles set a high standard for civility and professionalism, and they will be upheld,” per the Business Journal.

Owens, who served as an appointee of former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton during their administrations, did not respond to Axios' request for comment.

What's next: Welch told Axios he'll announce his plans for the office going forward later this week.


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