Gov. Raimondo, other elected officials won’t say how they plan to vote in Jackson recall

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The four elected officials who live in Providence City Councilman Kevin Jackson’s ward all plan to vote in Tuesday’s recall election, but they aren’t revealing which way they are leaning.

Gov. Gina Raimondo, Congressman David Cicilline, state Treasurer Seth Magaziner and state Rep. Aaron Regunberg, all Democrats, each confirmed their plans to vote in the recall election in Ward 3, which stretches from the University Heights apartment complex off of North Main Street all the way north to the Pawtucket line.

“Governor Raimondo plans to vote in the recall and believes the residents of Ward 3 should turn out and vote their consciences, as in every election,” David Ortiz, a spokesperson for the governor, told Eyewitness News.

Ortiz noted that Raimondo has “proposed a package of good government initiatives and reforms to strengthen Rhode Island’s campaign finance system.” In an op-ed published in the Providence Journal last month, Raimondo specifically named Jackson as someone who wouldn’t have been eligible to run under her proposal to prohibit candidates with unpaid or overdue campaign finance reports from appearing on the ballot.

A spokesperson for Cicilline said the congressman will be in Washington, D.C. for the recall, but confirmed he will take out an emergency ballot. He declined to say how Cicilline intends to vote. Magaziner’s office said he intends to vote, but also declined to say whether he supports the recall.

Regunberg said he never misses vote, but wouldn’t say whether he supports the recall.

“Democracy should be at the foundation of everything we do in public service, and elections offer a critical opportunity for community members to make their voices heard,” he said.

Jackson has represented Ward 3 since 1995, but 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.

Last year a group of Jackson’s constituents announced plans to run a campaign to remove him from office. The group initially submitted 300 signatures from voters in the ward to begin the process and then secured the signatures of 20% of all registered voters in the ward to force the recall election. On Tuesday residents will be asked to vote up or down on Jackson’s political future.

If Jackson is recalled, a special election to replace him will be scheduled.

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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