WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — The Woonsocket City Council voted unanimously Monday to move forward with an investigation into a complaint lodged against Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt.
Councilor Denise Sierra submitted a complaint 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.
Sierra also argued that Baldelli-Hunt is incompetent and should be removed from office.
But the Rhode Island Supreme Court halted the city council from taking any action against the mayor pending a hearing on Sept. 22.
The decision was in response to a motion filed by Baldelli-Hunt’s attorneys, which accused the city council of attempting to disenfranchise voters by removing an elected mayor, usurping the mayor’s executive power and abusing legislative authority to create a vacancy to fill at will.
“The efforts of the council to undo that mandate consist of using an unconstitutional charter provision and misusing their authority to exercise it,” the motion explained.
The city council decided Monday to hire a lawyer to represent Sierra throughout the court proceedings. The legal counsel will also conduct an outside investigation into Baldelli-Hunt’s actions.
Sierra said regardless of the outcome, she hopes the mayor will make changes moving forward.
“I think corner-to-corner the complaint speaks for itself,” Sierra said. “There are nine charges in there that will be heard and the administration will have a chance to defend themselves.”
Baldelli-Hunt’s attorneys wouldn’t comment on the complaints filed against her.
But in a statement issued last week, attorneys Michael Lepizzeria and Anthony Traini reassured residents that the mayor would continue to dutifully serve the city.
“She looks forward to championing the city forward for the remainder of this term and her new upcoming term,” her attorneys wrote.
Baldelli-Hunt is currently running unopposed for reelection this year, which sets her up for her fourth consecutive term as mayor.