Providence certifies signatures in Councilman Jackson recall

City Councilman Kevin Jackson

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The voters of Ward 3 on Providence’s East Side could decide on the political future of embattled City Councilman Kevin Jackson by early May.

The Providence Board of Canvassers announced Friday it has certified the signatures of 2,383 residents of the ward who signed a petition seeking to recall Jackson from office. The city charter states the next step in the process is for the City Council to schedule a special election where Ward 3 voters will be asked if they want to remove Jackson from office no less than 30 days and no more than 60 days from Friday.

Jackson’s attorneys have repeatedly said they intend to challenge the signatures, just as they did with the initial 360 signatures needed to initiate the recall process. Jackson still has a complaint pending before the R.I. Board of Elections.

If the voters of Ward 3 do vote to recall Jackson, a Democrat, from office, another special election will be scheduled to vote on a new councilman. Jackson would be eligible to run in the special election.

Jackson, 58, has represented Ward 3 since 1995. He was arrested by State Police last May and indicted by a statewide grand jury last July. He has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors allege he 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.

Following the arrest, Jackson resigned as majority leader of the City Council, but did not step down from the council altogether. He has regularly appeared at council meetings and committee meetings in the nine months since he was charged.

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