Who is Sabina Matos? Get to know RI’s 70th lieutenant governor


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Did you know Rhode Island wasn’t Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos’ first stop when she arrived in the United States? Or that her first job was packing clothes for the Lion King? Or even that she loves hot wieners all the way?

Maybe you did, but more than likely, you didn’t.

Now that she’s in office, 12 News wanted to help you get to know the governor’s #2, who’s the second woman and first person of color to hold the job.

In 1994, Matos immigrated to America from the Dominican Republic at the age of 20. She lived in New York for a few short months before landing in Providence’s Olneyville neighborhood.

Local staples like Olneyville New York System, Wes’s Rib House, and La Lupita are some of the lieutenant governor’s favorites.

On a more serious note, Matos says she’s focused on breathing life back into her once vibrant community through initiatives like affordable housing.

“What we saw in the pandemic is that [housing] became everything,” she said. “It became the place of work for many of us, it became the school for our children, so everyone should have a safe, secure place that they call home.”

One of the ways Matos is trying to accomplish her goal of better housing options is through projects like the Paragon Mill complex, which is set to bring not just affordable housing units, but also hundreds of jobs to Olneyville.

She noted that she’s backing the project in hopes of avoiding gentrification, and wants to apply the same principle in communities statewide.

“How do we welcome new energy but at the same time don’t displace the people that have been here all along?” Matos asked.

Like most politicians, Matos never thought she’d be a city councilor, let alone lieutenant governor. She says she’s just someone who’s passionate about her community and hopes to lead by example as the first Afro–Latina to hold the title of lieutenant governor of Rhode Island.

Matos indicated that she’s aware of the responsibility her new role carries and said if she fails, it reflects on each of the communities she represents, so she plans to set an example for minorities, the youth, and every Rhode Islander, challenging them to chase their wildest dreams.

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