While the longtime local legislator may have angered Tea Party activists who didn’t like his strong support for the Greenlight Pinellas transit issue three years ago, the rest of his constituents seem extremely pleased by his performance on the board, an agency he’s served on four more than 16 years now.
He demonstrated leadership skills last summer when some members of the community were outraged at Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and his deputies, claiming they were complicit in the deaths of three teenage girls who drowned in a cemetery pond after stealing a car.
Saying he was concerned about the girls’ families and the accusations that Gualtieri and deputies were guilty of murder, Welch visited the site of the death on his own, and later posted a video and statement on his Facebook page concluding that there was no way the deputies could have gotten to the girls in time.
“Commissioner Welch seems to be taking his leadership to a whole new level of impact,” notes St. Petersburg activist and magazine publisher Gypsy Gallardo. “I hope he’s thinking about higher office in the near future.”
Welch ranked No. 17 on the list in 2016.
Joe Henderson’s Take
“He slipped six spots from last year but Welch won points in my book when he stood up to the forces of darkness when advocating for passage of Greenlight Pinellas. That took no small bit of political courage since the tea party and anti-progress crowd tends to turn otherwise capable politicians into quivering bowls of Jello. In a world of shouting and screaming, Welch seems like a voice of reason and common sense.”
For a complete explanation of how this list was created and who made up the panel that amassed it, please read here.