Current, former St. Pete mayors endorse Ortiz

ABOVE:  (L-R) St. Pete Mayor Ken Welch, Eunic Ortiz, St. Pete Beach Mayor Al Johnson and former St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman. Screenshot via Facebook.

ST. PETERSBURG | St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch, St. Pete Beach Mayor Alan Johnson and former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman have each endorsed Eunic Ortiz in the race for state Senate District 18.

A Pinellas County native, Ortiz launched her campaign to represent “the community she grew up in, knows and loves.” In addition to most of the region’s coastline, District 18 includes parts of Clearwater, Gulfport, Largo, Pinellas Park and St. Petersburg.

Ortiz will become the first openly lesbian state senator in Florida if elected, making LGBTQ history in the process. Welch, Johnson and Kriseman announced their endorsements July 12, joining more than 50 other activists, leaders and organizations in doing so.

The three joined Ortiz for a live-streamed conference via social media:

“We launched this campaign a year ago last month and since then we have built a broad coalition of support from not only around Tampa Bay, but around the state of Florida,” Ortiz began. “We know that this seat has critical implications to the everyday life of all Floridians, not just a select few.

“By running for this seat, we want to elect bold leadership to office to represent us in Tallahassee from my hometown in Pinellas County – and hopefully when we win in November, we’ll do just that,” she continued. Ortiz subsequently introduced each mayor, thanking them for their “cross-county support of our race.”

Welch detailed his support first.

“As a former county commissioner and current mayor of St. Petersburg, I understand how much of a policy-impact decisions in Tallahassee make for our city,” he shared. “Decisions regarding our voting rights, human rights and a woman’s right over her own healthcare decisions.

“I am honored to support Eunic Ortiz in her race to be our next state senator in District 18,” Welch continued. “Now more than ever, leadership matters and elections matter. Tallahassee will have a tremendous impact on our future and that’s why we must elect Eunic as our next state senator this November.”

He was followed by Johnson, who advised Tallahassee’s decisions “overwhelm” local municipalities, something Ortiz can help change. “She will let us control the things that we need to in our municipalities, so I’m very much in support of her candidacy and will do anything I can to help her win,” he said.

Kriseman, who in addition to serving as mayor of St. Petersburg also served in the Florida Legislature, shared his position next.

“During my time as mayor, I knew how important it is to have leaders in state office who are true partners of the city. Someone who believed in empowering cities and not preempting away our ability to represent and serve our residents,” he said.

“I am proud to support and endorse Eunic Ortiz for state Senate, District 18,” he closed. “I know Eunic and knows she has a heart for service. She will be ready to serve day one and truly wants to do the work to make our community a better place.”

Welch and Kriseman’s statements were subsequently released to the press, along with another from Ortiz.

“I am so proud to have the support of mayors from across the district,” she said. “St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch, St. Pete Beach Mayor Al Johnson and former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman are all a testament to how working with local government is key to ensuring we have a brighter future for our community.”

The candidate added that she looks forward to working with the local leaders as a member of the Florida Senate.

For more information about Ortiz’s campaign, visit

More in News

See More