Chairman of Providence Democrats resigns for derogatory Facebook meme

Patrick Ward is the new chairman of the Providence Democratic City Committee.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A day after apologizing for posting a derogatory meme about two City Council members to Facebook, Providence Democratic City Committee Chairman Patrick Ward has resigned.

Ward acknowledged Thursday he posted and quickly deleted a “childish meme” comparing now-Council President David Salvatore and Majority Leader John Igliozzi to characters from “The Godfather,” but said Friday he was resigning because of the distraction the attention has caused.

“It has been a pleasure to serve as Chairman of the Providence Democratic City Committee this last year,” Ward said in a prepared statement. “It is apparent that recent events have caused a distraction on one of the most important elections in recent memory. It is but for my love for the Democratic Party that I feel it best to resign and continue my independent work for equality, representation and a voice for those less privileged.”

Ward posted the meme under a story about Salvatore and Igliozzi working together to take over the top leadership positions on the City Council. Ward is married to Councilwoman Sabina Matos, who was serving as the acting president at the time.

A screenshot of Ward’s comment had been shopped around to reporters for several weeks, but no elected official publicly called for him to resign until Wednesday.

Councilman Nicholas Narducci was the first to criticize Ward, claiming he “publicly mocked and disrespected members of his own party in his own city.”

By Thursday, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, Mayor Jorge Elorza, Salvatore and Igliozzi were all criticizing the meme. Elorza, who as the highest-ranking elected official in city government is essentially the leader of the Providence Democrats, also called for Ward to resign.

It’s unclear who will replace Ward as chair of the committee, whose 165 members (11 members for each of Providence’s 15 wards) are elected every four years.

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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