Nirva LaFortune wins City Council seat in Providence’s Ward 3

Democrat Nirva LaFortune.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democrat Nirva Rebecca LaFortune swept to victory in the Providence City Council Ward 3 special election Wednesday, easily dispatching of little-known opponents Republican David Lallier Jr. and independent Chris Reynolds.

Unofficial results from the Providence Board of Canvassers show LaFortune captured 94% of the 1,341 votes cast in the race. Lallier finished second with just 55 votes and Reynolds received 22 votes.There are 10,129 registered voters in the ward.

LaFortune, a 34-year-old Brown University employee, will succeed longtime Democratic Councilman Kevin Jackson, who was overwhelmingly recalled by Ward 3 voters May 2. Jackson was arrested and indicted last year on charges that he embezzled from a youth sports organization he founded in 1978. He is also accused of using his campaign fund to cover personal expenses. He has pleaded not guilty.

Ward 3 stretches from the University Heights apartment complex off of North Main Street all the way north to the Pawtucket line. The district is unique because it is home to some of the wealthiest residents in the city as well the Mount Hope neighborhood, where incomes tend to be lower.

Born in Haiti and raised in Providence, LaFortune billed herself as a progressive who will fight for immigrants’ rights and gun control while expressing support for the Providence Community-Police Relations Act (PCPRA) and opposition to the newly-enacted ban on tobacco in parts of downtown.

LaFortune will be the fifth female member of the City Council, joining Jo-Ann Ryan from Ward 5, Carmen Castillo from Ward 9, Mary Kay Harris from Ward 11 and acting president Sabina Matos, who represents Ward 15. All 15 members of the council are Democrats.

In a statement released 12 minutes after polls closed, Republican Lallier congratulated LaFortune on her victory.

“I want to thank our community for getting out to vote and entrusting us with your greatest right as Americans,” he said. “I hope every day that Providence will continue to grow and prosper. I hope others will find it in them to run in future elections and find the best candidates for Providence. I ask everyone to remember that we should ‘chase after the dream, don’t chase after the money.'”

LaFortune’s election means she will complete the current City Council term and be up for re-election next year. Providence’s term limits prohibit councilors from serving more than three consecutive four-year terms, but because LaFortune won election so late in the current term, she will be eligible to run in 2018, 2022 and 2026, according to the city’s Board of Canvassers.

LaFortune will join the council as several of her new colleagues jockey to become the next council president. Matos has been the acting president since May following the resignation of Council President Luis Aponte, who was indicted in four charges related to his alleged misuse of campaign funds. Aponte only stepped down from the leadership post. He remains on the council.

Matos, Finance Committee John Igliozzi and Councilmen Terry Hassett and David Salvatore have all expressed interest in being president.

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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