5 Providence councilors call for Aponte to resign as president

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A day after Providence City Council President Luis Aponte was indicted on four charges related to his alleged misuse of campaign funds, five of his colleagues are calling for him to resign as leader of the council.

In a statement Thursday, Councilors Seth Yurdin, Sam Zurier, Nick Narducci, Wilbur Jennings and David Salvatore said the charges against Aponte have “shattered any remaining public trust in his leadership of the City Council.” They said they will introduce a resolution at next Thursday’s council meeting calling for Aponte to resign.

Mayor Jorge Elorza has also called on Aponte to resign as president of the council. In prepared statements or direct comments to a reporter, Majority Leader Bryan Principe and Councilors Jo-Ann Ryan, Michael Correia, John Igliozzi, Carmen Castillo, Terry Hassett and Sabina Matos all stopped short of calling for Aponte’s resignation.

“We are confused and disappointed by statements from our colleagues urging a ‘wait and see’ approach,” the five Democrats said in a statement. “Every hour that Mr. Aponte remains as president worsens the crisis of public confidence he and former Majority Leader Jackson have generated. It is time to stop enabling this conduct and for everyone to place the well-being of the city above their personal interests and ambitions.”

Aponte was charged with one count of unlawful appropriation, one count of embezzlement – both felonies – and two misdemeanor counts of misuse of his campaign fund. Prosecutors claim the crimes occurred between December 2013 and December 2015. Aponte has pleaded not guilty.

Aponte has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

The statement from Yurdin, Zurier, Narducci, Jennings and Salvatore comes as no surprise. The five councilors each voted against Aponte for council president in 2015 and have been critical of his leadership team over the last two-and-a-half years.

Aponte’s indictment came a week after the voters of Ward 3 voted overwhelmingly to recall Councilman Kevin Jackson, who has also been charged with embezzling from a youth sports organization and his campaign fund. Jackson was the majority leader of the council until he resigned following his arrest last May.

The council is scheduled to meet May 18. Aside from the resolution calling for Aponte to resign, the council will also formally declare Jackson’s seat vacant and possibly schedule a special election.

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