Women, and Black Women, Make history in St. Petersburg


St. Petersburg City Hall, Pinellas Courts reporter

Before today, the city council never had six women, or two black women, serving together.

ST. PETERSBURG — Two new council members took their oaths of office today. Together they made history.

Deborah Figgs-Sanders joined Lisa Wheeler-Bowman to become the second female African American on the council. Never before have two black women served on the body at the same time.

Figgs-Sanders is also the first African American to serve District 5, which covers the southern tip of the city and includes Lakewood Estates and Pinellas Point.

Because Figgs-Sanders replaced term-limited Steve Kornell, the council will have six women on it. That is also a first, according to St. Petersburg Museum of History archives.

And Robert Blackmon, 30, who replaced term-limited Charlie Gerdes in District 1, is the youngest person ever to sit on the city council, according to the museum. And he is the first millennial.

Figgs-Sanders and Blackmon join a council that is a beacon of diversity among local city governments. St. Petersburg’s city council now features six women, two of whom are black and two of whom are gay.

There is not one woman serving on Tampa’s or Clearwater’s city councils. While Tampa City Council does feature racial diversity — three are Hispanic, three are white and one is black — all of Clearwater’s council members are white.

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