Cost of Councilman Jackson recall could top $150K

City Councilman Kevin Jackson

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The effort to recall embattled Providence City Councilman Kevin Jackson could cost taxpayers more than $150,000 by the time a special election to replace him is held this summer, city officials say.

The city has already spent $89,361 on legal costs associated with the recall and last Tuesday’s special election, according to figures obtained through a public records request.

Victor Morente, a spokesperson for Mayor Jorge Elorza, said the city anticipates spending between $60,000 and $80,000 for the special primary and general elections that will be held in Ward 3 during the summer to replace Jackson.

Jackson, a 58-year-old Democrat who has represented Ward 3 since 1995, was recalled by a resounding margin last week, with 91% of voters supporting his removal from the office. The recall was prompted by his arrest and indictment last year on charges that he embezzled $127,153 from the Providence Cobras youth track-and-field team, a program he founded. He is also accused of using $12,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses. He has pleaded not guilty.

The City Council is expected to formally declare Jackson’s seat vacant at its next meeting on May 18. A special election will be set within 90 days of the vacancy.

The bulk of the costs associated with Jackson’s recall are related to the councilman’s attempt to challenge the signatures of hundreds of constituents who signed a petition that prompted last week’s recall. The city is still paying a law firm, Donoghue Barrett & Singal, $200 per hour to serve as its outside counsel in that matter.

A breakdown shows the law firm has been paid $68,576 for costs associated with the recall. The Providence Board of Canvassers spent $19,280 on the recall election, which included the mailing of polling location information to all Ward 3 voters as well as the staffing of polling locations and overtime for the board’s employees. The city also spent $1,504 for police details.

The city treasurer is still refusing to pay Donoghue Barrett & Singal until he receives “detailed information on the charges and to determine if the proper procedures were followed on the hiring.” Elorza has called on the treasurer to pay the firm.

Morente said the special primary and general elections will costs between $30,000 and $40,000 each. He said the city is planning to use four polling places for the elections rather the three that were used in the recall.

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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