Board: Group can proceed with attempt to recall Councilman Jackson

The Providence Board of Canvassers meets to discuss the recall of Councilman Kevin Jackson. (Photo by Dan McGowan/WPRI 12)
The Providence Board of Canvassers meets to discuss the recall of Councilman Kevin Jackson. (Photo by Dan McGowan/WPRI 12)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The attempted recall of embattled Providence City Councilman Kevin Jackson can proceed.

The Providence Board of Canvassers ruled Friday that Jackson’s lawyers did not prove that the vast majority of recall signatures turned in by a group of constituents from Ward 3 should be invalidated, paving the way for the group to begin collecting the 2,000 signatures they need to force an up or down vote on the councilman’s political future.

The board met for more than three hours Friday, reviewing dozens of objections filed by Jackson challenging the initial signatures collected by the recall group. In the end, the board disqualified eight signatures and chose to reserve seven signatures for further review, meaning the group still has the necessary 300 signatures to proceed to the next step in the process.

Jackson’s attorneys, Artin Coloian and Daniel Calabro, repeatedly objected to votes taken by the three-member board, arguing that they weren’t given the opportunity to issue subpoenas to potential witnesses.

“This is not an elections matter, this is a due process matter,” Coloian said before the board adjourned.

Following the meeting, Coloian and Calabro said they were “considering all our options” for how they plan to proceed.

Jackson, a 58-year-old Democrat who has represented Ward 3 on the East Side since 1995, was arrested by State Police in May and indicted by a statewide grand jury in July. He has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors allege Jackson embezzled $127,153 from the Providence Cobras youth track-and-field team, an organization that received more than $67,000 in taxpayer-funded city donations between 2005 and 2015. He is also accused of using $12,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses.

In September, a group of Jackson’s constituents submitted a declaration of intent to petition for recall to the city clerk that included more than 300 signatures, the number required to initiate the recall process.

The group is now required to collect 2,000 signatures within 120 days. If they are successful, the voters of Ward 3 will be asked to vote yes or no on whether they wish to recall Jackson. If he is recalled, a special election will be held.

Jackson did not attend Friday’s hearing.

Continue the discussion on Facebook

Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan