PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence City Council President Luis Aponte said Thursday he expects embattled Councilman Kevin Jackson to return to work beginning next week even though Jackson has resigned his positions as majority leader and on the Finance Committee.
Jackson, a 57-year-old Democrat, was arrested outside Providence City Hall last week for allegedly embezzling more than $127,000 from a taxpayer-subsidized nonprofit he founded as well as misusing $12,000 in campaign contributions. He has said he intends to plead not guilty.
Aponte’s comments came on the same day the council elected Councilman Bryan Principe as its majority leader. The council president also named Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan as Jackson’s replacement on the powerful Finance Committee. Jackson did not attend Thursday’s council meeting.
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It’s unclear what role Jackson, who represents Ward 3 on the East Side, will play on the City Council in the coming months, but he does remain a member of the Claims and Pending Suits Committee, City Property Committee, Rules Committee, Education Committee and Municipal Operations and Oversight Committee.
Only the Claims and Pending Suits Committee is scheduled to meet next week. Most of the panels he sits on meet only a few times each year.
In addition to resigning as majority leader and from the Finance Committee, Jackson has also forfeited his oversight over the day-to-day administrative operations of the City Council. Ryan will assume that role, which includes managing the council staff. The council also elected Ryan as its majority whip.
Following his arrest, Jackson said he would not resign from the council. He is not up for re-election until 2018 and would be term-limited in 2022.
Reached Thursday, Marcus Mitchell, who narrowly lost his write-in bid to unseat Jackson in 2014, said he intends to seek the council seat during the next election. He acknowledged that he has heard whispers about an attempt to recall Jackson, but said he does not intend to lead that effort.
In order to recall a member of the council, 300 registered voters from the councilor’s ward must sign a petition and submit it to the city clerk. Within 120 days of the initial petition being submitted, a separate petition that includes the signatures of 20% of registered voters in the ward must be filed with the clerk and submitted to the Providence Board of Canvassers. If the board validates the necessary signatures, an election must be scheduled within 60 days.
As for Principe, the new majority leader pledged to serve with “diligence, transparency and responsibility” during a short speech at Thursday’s council meeting. His colleagues gave him a standing ovation.
Principe has represented Ward 13, which includes Federal Hill and the West End, since 2011. He was the first councilor to endorse Jorge Elorza for mayor before the 2014 Democratic primary and was an early supporter of Aponte’s bid for the council presidency.
In separate business, the council unanimously approved a resolution calling for an audit of all taxpayer-funded grants that have been awarded to nonprofits over the last decade. The nonprofit track-and-field team founded by Jackson has been a regular recipient of city grants throughout his tenure on the council.