WOONSOCKET, R.I. — “Un-American, unprecedented and unacceptable.”
That’s how now-former Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt described the Woonsocket City Council’s decision to oust her from office early Thursday morning.
“They are bullies,” Baldelli-Hunt said. “They have been bullies and they will continue to be bullies.”
The decision stemmed from a complaint submitted by Councilor Denise Sierra earlier this month, in which she claimed Baldelli-Hunt wasn’t performing her duties as mayor.
In her complaint, Sierra accused Baldelli-Hunt of repeatedly ignoring and refusing to enforce ordinances and measures passed by the city council. She also argued that Baldelli-Hunt is incompetent and should be removed from office.
Following hours of testimony and discussion, the council voted 3-2 in favor of removing Baldelli-Hunt from office. Both Sierra and Woonsocket City Council President Daniel Gendron, who was sworn in as acting mayor shortly after, abstained from the vote.
Sierra said while she’s grateful that Baldelli-Hunt is being held accountable, she wouldn’t wish this upon any other community.
“I am a believer in law and order as well as accountability, especially for those whom we elect,” she said. “If you fail, as a leader, to uphold what you swore to do then you are accountable. If not, why bother having rules and laws at all. We might as well call ourselves a dictatorship. Process matters.”
Baldelli-Hunt expressed frustration following the vote, accusing the council of “working on this for years.”
“This has been orchestrated,” she said. “I will be working the streets of Woonsocket to let the people know that they need to remove the obstructionists who are holding back projects out of spite.”
Baldelli-Hunt, who has received an outpouring of support throughout the ordeal, will likely return to Woonsocket City Hall in December, since she is running unopposed in the upcoming election.
But until then, Gendron will be calling the shots.
Watch: McKee comments on Baldelli-Hunt’s removal (Story continues below.)
“I wish this didn’t have to happen,” Gendron said. “I’m happy to be here because I’m going to do the best I can.”
Gendron tells 12 News his time as acting mayor will be short, since he is still running for Woonsocket City Council this election.
Baldelli-Hunt, on the other hand, will be using this time to campaign against the councilors who forced her out.
“I won’t stop fighting for the residents of this city because their voice was taken away,” she said. “I will be using this time to work with other candidates to bring respect, accountability and democracy back to our city.”