ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The City of St. Petersburg will no longer have a deputy mayor position.

Mayor Ken Welch announced that change Thursday during a news conference to publicly address the resignations of two key staff members on Thursday, nearly one week after their departures. 

Last week, the city’s communications director and deputy mayor both stepped down after allegations of a hostile work environment surfaced. 

“I do not believe that there is a hostile work environment in our city," Welch said. "But as mayor I need to base my decisions on facts and data not solely on my beliefs. So I am taking steps to make sure we acquire feedback from our current employees on our workplace environment, so that employees feel more empowered to report any inappropriate behavior in the workplace.”

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“I’ve decided, that moving forward there will not be a deputy mayor position in my administration. I will have a chief of staff with responsibilities for inter-governmental relations, strategic communications and policy initiatives. Reporting to me, and working closely with the city administration.”

The mayor also said the allegations of workplace issues will continue to be investigated and feedback will be collected from employees to make it easier for them to report any issues. 

Welch said with no deputy mayor, the chief of staff will work with intergovernmental relations.


The allegations first surfaced on Sept. 1, when the city’s former communications director Janelle Irwin Taylor resigned. She stated that Deputy Mayor Stephanie Owens was the reason behind her resignation and that Owens created a “hostile work environment” and there was a “culture of bullying” happening at City Hall. 


When Welch received Taylor’s resignation letter, he placed Owens on administrative leave and launched an investigation. 

Hours later, before the investigation could begin, Owens announced that she would be resigning as well. Her last day is scheduled for Sept. 9. 

Owens said in her resignation letter that “recent events distract from our impactful and intentional work to move our great city forward.”