PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — After more than 23 years on the Providence City Council, John Igliozzi is finally its president.
Igliozzi was elected to lead the chamber at a special council meeting Tuesday night, shortly after former Council President Sabina Matos was confirmed by the R.I. Senate to be the state’s new lieutenant governor. She is scheduled to be sworn in Wednesday morning.
“In my capacity as council president, I plan to work every day to ensure that the City Council continues the important work of creating a stronger and fiscally stable Providence,” Igliozzi said in a statement. “We are committed to advocating for new jobs, new development, affordable housing, and ensuring that the essential quality of life services that our taxpayers expect is further enhanced.”
Igliozzi is from Silver Lake, where his family has been involved in local Democratic politics for decades. On the council he has most recently been a key member of Matos’ leadership team, as chairman of the Finance Committee as well as the majority whip. An attorney, he works as chief of staff and assistant director at the R.I. Department of Transportation.
Igliozzi’s term as president lasts until January 2023, when the next City Council will be sworn in following the 2022 elections. Igliozzi cannot run for re-election next year, because term limits approved by voters 15 years ago will be taking effect.
No other candidates for council president were nominated, which meant a single ballot was cast on behalf of the entire council — no vote was held.
The current iteration of the all-Democratic council has been roughly split 8-to-7, which left political observers wondering if Matos would have to cast the deciding vote for Igliozzi on her way out.
But in an apparent show of unity, no one challenged Igliozzi for the presidency. Councilors also elected relative newcomer Pedro Espinal, first elected in 2019, as the president pro tempore.
Espinal also faced no challengers for the job, which had been vacant since December, when Michael Correia resigned following a Target 12 report on audio recordings of him inside the council office.
Igliozzi had already been expected to ascend to acting president upon Matos’s departure, since the pro-tem job was vacant and he is the longest-serving member of the council. But Matos called for the special meeting at the last minute to elect the two leaders before leaving the council.
In parting words to her colleagues, Matos sought to invoke unity.
“I feel confident that the two of you can work together to unify our City Council,” she said to Igliozzi and Espinal.
“It has been an honor to serve in this role,” she said to her fellow councilors. “I know we have had differences of opinions. At the end of the day all of us were trying to do what we believe is the right thing for the city of Providence.”
Matos is expected to resign from her Ward 15 council seat on Wednesday. A special election will be held to fill her seat, which represents parts of Olneyville, Silver Lake and Valley.
As a going-away gift, she gave each councilor a copy of the book “The Four Agreements” by don Miguel Ruiz.
“When life gets crazy, I go back to reading the book,” Matos said. “I always try to do my best.”