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St. Petersburg mayor, city council inaugural receptions postponed due to COVID-19

City Council members will still be sworn in Jan. 6 at 10:30 a.m. followed by the mayor at noon.
Ken Welch is seen during a watch party Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021 in St. Petersburg. Welch was declared the projected winner for St. Petersburg mayor.
Ken Welch is seen during a watch party Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021 in St. Petersburg. Welch was declared the projected winner for St. Petersburg mayor. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]
Published Dec. 29, 2021

ST. PETERSBURG — Public celebrations for the historic inauguration of the city’s first Black mayor and three new City Council members have been postponed because of a spike of COVID-19 cases due to the infections omicron variant.

A community reception scheduled for 1 p.m. at Williams Park following St. Petersburg Mayor-elect Ken Welch’s noon inauguration on Jan. 6 has been postponed. A mayor and city council reception planned for Jan. 8 at the Dali Museum has also been postponed.

“St. Petersburg has led through this pandemic with compassion, discipline and resilience. However, as we see COVID-19 cases spike throughout our community, we must continue to make the responsible choices that protect each other,” Welch said in a statement. “Out of an abundance of caution, we will postpone these events till such time that we can safely celebrate together.”

The inaugurations will continue at St. Petersburg City Hall as planned. The ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. to swear in newly elected members Copley Gerdes, Lisset Hanewicz and Richie Floyd. Re-elected members Brandi Gabbard and Gina Driscoll will also be sworn in at that time.

Welch’s swearing in as the city’s 54th mayor will begin at 12 p.m. on the steps of City Hall. Those attending the inauguration who are not vaccinated are asked to wear a mask and follow all CDC guidelines. A livestream of the ceremony will be available on the City of St. Petersburg’s Facebook page and on stpete.org/tv.

This is the first time City Council has three Black members. Floyd is the first Black member elected north of Central Avenue. Hanewicz is also the first Hispanic city council member.

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