PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Luis A. Aponte, who in 1998 became the first Latino candidate elected to the Providence City Council, was voted the first Latino president of the City Council Monday afternoon.
The Ward 10 councilman was sworn in as president after he defeated Ward 4 Councilman Nick Narducci 9-6 in a rare floor vote for the position. Traditionally, council members settle the race behind closed doors and vote as a block for council president on inauguration day.
Ward 15 Councilwoman Sabina Matos, who has represented Olneyville since 2011, was elected president pro tempore.
After the council meeting, at 2 p.m., Mayor Jorge Elorza was scheduled to have his own swearing-in ceremony on the steps of City Hall. Elorza was officially sworn in as mayor early Monday morning at a private gathering in his home.
“We are hoping to work very closely with this mayor,” Aponte told WPRI.com Sunday. “There is a moment of hopefulness in the city and we want to take advantage and continue the momentum.”
Aponte, 51, was born in Puerto Rico and raised in Brooklyn before moving to Providence. He lost his first race for the Ward 10 City Council seat he now holds in 1995 by six votes against incumbent John Rollins, but cruised to victory four years later after Rollins resigned to take a city job.
He has represented the Washington Park and Lower South Providence neighborhoods ever since.
Councilman Kevin Jackson, from Ward 3 on the East Side, will serve as the council majority leader. Ward 12 Councilman Terry Hassett will serve as senior deputy majority leader and Ward 6 Councilman Michael Correia will be deputy majority leader.