St. Petersburg High School, Graduate, 2007
Florida State University, Graduate, 2011. Major: Political Science. Dual Minors, Communications and Emergency Management
Owner/Manager of a portfolio of commercial and multifamily real estate units in St. Pete. Founder/Partner, Blackmon Properties, having renovated over 250 dwellings in the past 10 years throughout the city.
Member of the St. Petersburg City Council since 2019, serving West St. Pete (District 1).
I am a consensus-builder who is ready and willing to work with all stakeholders to build a better future for St. Pete, but I’m not afraid to stand up for what I believe in, too. I have worked with Democrats and Republicans to rebuild the Science Center and promote affordable housing, but I fought for small business owners to have the chance to survive the COVID crisis. As an award-winning residential preservationist and renovator myself I know what it takes to build something lasting that helps advance the community while maintaining its character and history.
I was the first member of City Council to propose an end to the state of emergency over COVID; I believed correctly that incentivizing and promoting vaccination was the best way to prevent sickness while not penalizing business owners from being able to survive and grow despite the challenges of the past year. My colleagues, opponents in this race and the current Mayor all stood against me, but we had an infection rate that was at or better than other cities our size while avoiding the mass closures seen by cities that waited too long to reopen.
Trop must stand for transparency, reciprocity, opportunity and patience. We must be open about what our goals are and what it’s worth to achieve them; ensure any redevelopment honors the Midtown community and provides opportunity for longtime St. Pete residents, including affordable housing; and we must be willing to take the time to negotiate with all stakeholders. I will not give the Rays any deal without tangible, concrete items in return, but I will not reject their overtures outright because they don’t fit my priorities, either.
St. Pete has the best police force in the world. While we can always be better, we are already promoting reforms and have realized the goals of the Eight Can’t Wait movement while adding accountability like body cameras and promoting better community relations. What the community is crying out for now is more policing for communities suffering a spate of violence, so my priorities will be to expand our ability to respond to mental health crises with specialized non-law enforcement resources while fully funding the police and directing them to take the steps needed to stop the violence.
We have a lot of sustainable and natural measures that will help restore our shoreline and fight red tide, like supporting mangrove restoration and oyster gardens to both clean the bay + create natural barriers to flooding. I will dedicate city resources to doing this at no cost to homeowners who need it. My administration will immediately prioritize water equity on the South Side and both expand and deepen waste and stormwater infrastructure in Midtown and South Side. Additionally, I fought on Council for a Lakes Management Department to deal with just such problems. We need to fund it fully.
True equity starts with financial equity. I plan to a create community development fund by selling our Municipal Services Center and relocating civil servants to Midtown, which will allow us to provide sustainable seed funding to entrepreneurs in Midtown and South Side and bring new consumers to the area, building a sustainable foundation for businesses without pushing gentrification of existing neighborhoods. Downtown is thriving without the need for intervention. We must spread our attention and resources to communities that have not traditionally received the same level of focus.
As a property owner whose housing is 100% affordable to families below 120% AMI myself, I recognize the challenges being faced by both owners and residents of housing across the city. I will create affordable housing opportunities by buying and refurbishing existing housing for at-cost sale to families making under 120% AMI as well as pushing incentives to increase housing supply, like waiving permitting fees for developers building affordable housing. Instead of focusing on rentals, I intend to utilize city dollars to provide low or no income mortgages to those in need.
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Melrose Elementary (1969 – last year of segregation)
Bay Point (Elementary & Middle)
USF St. Pete 1985 Accounting Grad
FAMU 1987 MBA
After receiving his BA from USFSP and MBA from Florida A&M, Ken returned to St. Petersburg as an accountant for Florida Power Corporation. He also served as Technology Manager for his father’s small accounting firm.
After years of community service, Ken became the first Commissioner elected to represent County Commission District 7 in St. Petersburg, only the second African American commissioner in the history of Pinellas County. Ken proudly served on the County Commission for 20 years.
As a 3rd generation St. Pete native, I’ve seen our city aspire to greatness. We now have the opportunity to live our values of equity, equal opportunity & fulfilling the promises made to the often displaced AA community. I bring 40 yrs of small business experience in family businesses, 20 yrs of corp experience leading mission critical financial & back office systems for our largest organizations (Florida Power, SPC & Raymond James Corp.), & 20 years of leadership as County Commissioner (3-term Chair). I bring the best combination of private, public sector & community leadership experience.
During the COVID19 pandemic of 2020, I played a key leadership role in leading the County Commission to follow the recommendations of our medical professionals. We did so in the face of staunch opposition, including personal threats and attempted intimidation. We required masks, closed our beaches during spring break, and instituted a Safer At Home order. It was the right decision for our community, and Pinellas fared better than other counties.
The overarching goals of housing, office space, jobs and equitable development is underpinned by our responsibility to honor the history of the Gas Plant community that was dislocated for ‘progress’. As a product of that community, I know that the economic and societal benefits of a supportive community environment, particularly for young people, is invaluable. A robust Community Benefits Agreement is a key element of the Trop redevelopment.
I’ve led the efforts to fund services and programs to remove mental health/homelessness and minor adult/juvenile offenses well before the “defund the police” term became popular. We’ve funded services, housing, diversion programs, outreach teams, etc., to de-escalate and provide alternatives. I’d led these efforts as County Commission chair, Chair of the Homeless Leadership Network, and Co-Chair of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, among other roles.
Our community faces the unique issues of being the first built-out county and the most vulnerable area in the United States to the problems of sea-level rise and extreme weather. We must focus on continuing the funding and implementation of the Integrated Water Resources Master Plan, and the Integrated Sustainability Action Plan to build our infrastructure, mitigate and adapt to SLR, and build resiliency, including social resilience.
Here are three:
Prioritization of the South St. Pete CRA to focus on education, poverty reduction, digital divide/internet access, nutrition, and entrepreneurial support
Prioritization of NTM-1 zoning to facilitate upzoning for missing middle housing
Creation of an Opportunity Agenda for Youth-focused on reaching at-risk children and providing wrap-around educational and family support, job training, and mentoring.
I've long led on housing. Under my chairmanship, the County Commission implemented the Community Housing Plan and funded the countywide Housing Trust Fund. As a result, we invested over $100 million in funds supporting the development of more than 4000 affordable housing units. I will leverage those funds, process improvements, and partnerships to expand housing and prevent eviction and homelessness.
I believe that the establishment of equity as an organizational priority is essential. The establishment of an equity framework, action-plan and a Chief Equity Officer, will support the attainment of that goal.