Pinellas County's first incorporated city, Tarpon Springs, this month became the first city in Pinellas to elect an African-American mayor. Tarpon Springs is 123 years old, and Pinellas became a county 98 years ago. But never before have voters in any of the county's 24 municipalities bestowed the title of mayor on a black person.
Perhaps it is not so surprising that the first was Tarpon Springs, a city that embraced Greek sponge divers and grew up around a black neighborhood with a rich heritage of its own. Tarpon Springs often has claimed that it doesn't judge people by skin color or station in life. Voters demonstrated it on March 9 by electing David O. Archie, the only African-American on the ballot, with 57 percent of the vote.
When Archie took his seat on the dais, it was to a standing ovation from a proud, diverse crowd in the City Hall auditorium. The Rev. Glenn Morris' invocation reflected the emotion in the room: "We are indeed thankful tonight that we're part of something very special … that we look at the heart of a person and their spirit, and tonight we see that in our new mayor … that we look at what we can do together, no matter what background, no matter what color."
Archie has worked for decades in the community. Raised in Tarpon Springs, he was a long-time city commissioner and is executive director of the Citizens Alliance for Progress, a nonprofit agency that provides programs for youth and families. He has volunteered with city and countywide organizations, always making an impression as a thoughtful and collaborative leader.
Archie said during the campaign that Tarpon Springs "is positioned to do great things." It already has.