WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — The Woonsocket City Council has ousted Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt from office, just months before she will likely be sworn back in.
Councilors voted 3-2 in favor of removing her around 1:30 a.m. on Thursday.
The decision stems from a complaint submitted by Councilor Denise Sierra earlier this month, in which she claimed Baldelli-Hunt wasn’t performing her duties as mayor. (Both Sierra and Woonsocket City Council President Daniel Gendron, who was sworn in as her replacement shortly after, abstained from the vote.)
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.
In response to the vote, Sierra sent a statement to 12 News saying she would never wish this upon any city.
“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/laws at all. We might as well call ourselves a dictatorship. Process matters.”
Earlier this week, Sierra presented her case against the mayor to her fellow councilors during a special hearing.
“Her actions demonstrate a prolonged and ongoing contempt for our form of government,” Sierra told her fellow councilors Tuesday night. “That calls for consensus and respect between and amongst all elected officials and the city.”
“Her disdain is palpable,” she continued. “It has shown no signs of abating … for these reasons and more, the mayor should be removed from office.”
The hearing continued late into the evening, to the point where Gendron decided to cut the hearing short and reconvene Wednesday evening.
Baldelli-Hunt spent the majority of Wednesday’s hearing speaking in her own defense.
Following an occasionally-heated cross-examination from the city’s attorneys, the councilors went through and voted on each of the nine counts lodged against Baldelli-Hunt in Sierra’s complaint. (Those counts range from willfully violating the city charter to neglecting mayoral duties.)
Watch: Gov. McKee comments on Baldelli-Hunt’s removal. Story continues below.
While the majority of those counts were dismissed, councilors determined four of them were warranted.
“They are bullies, they have been bullies, they will continue to be bullies and not only do they bully here, they bully in their workplace and they bully the employees here,” Baldelli-Hunt told 12 News following the vote.
“This has been orchestrated. They have been working on this for years and 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,” she continued. “They’re good spinners. They are masters at this, and then they kneel down at the front row of church as if they’re holier than thou.”
Baldelli-Hunt, who previously told 12 News she’s received an outpouring of support, is expected to return to Woonsocket City Hall in December since she is running unopposed in the upcoming election.
But until then, Gendron will be in charge of the city.