Q&A: Council prez Matos on lieutenant governor hopes, Providence’s slow vaccine rollout


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — When it comes to the chances of her being the state’s next lieutenant governor, Providence City Council President Sabina Matos doesn’t like the term “front-runner.”

“I think I have always liked being an underdog,” she said on 12 News Now at 4 on Friday.

Matos and more than 70 others are vying to be the state’s next LG, submitting resumes and cover letters to newly sworn-in Governor Dan McKee.

“I believe that this city, this state and this country has given so much to me, and I just want to give back,” Matos said. “I believe that as lieutenant governor I’m going to be able to help not only the City of Providence, but other communities throughout the state.”

Matos was first elected to the Providence city council in 2010 and became the council’s first Latina president in 2019.

On Thursday, Target 12 reported Providence has one of the lowest vaccination rates across all of Rhode Island, despite having some of the highest rates of infections and hospitalizations throughout the pandemic.

12 News asked Matos why her home city is lagging behind when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations. She pointed to a lack of access to technology and language barriers as being some of the biggest factors holding residents back.

She said vaccine hesitancy also plays a role, citing a chain of messages being shared through WhatsApp and Facebook that are spreading misinformation about the vaccine.

“Right now I believe we have enough individuals that are willing to take the vaccine,” she said. “Unfortunately right now the process of getting them registered — it has been challenging for many of them.”

12 News also asked Matos about one of her recent tweets where she thanked Nancy Navarro, a councilwoman in Maryland, who spoke out about an incident where Navarro was mocked for her accent. Matos said she and her colleagues have had similar experiences.

Matos said she often thinks of the phrase, “Because I speak with an accent, it doesn’t mean I think with an accent.”

“Unfortunately this is an issue not only in politics, but it happens in every other profession,” she said. “We need to value the contribution individuals make, regardless of how they speak.”

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