CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — The mayor of Rhode Island’s second-biggest city didn’t mince words Tuesday, telling 12 News he believes Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo should step aside as she prepares for her anticipated new role in Washington, D.C.
“I’d like to see Lt. Gov. [Dan] McKee take over,” Cranston Mayor Ken Hopkins said. “It’s time.”
Raimondo is awaiting Senate confirmation to become President Biden’s commerce secretary, and has stated she has no intention of resigning as governor until that occurs. The Senate is on recess this week, but could vote on her nomination when lawmakers are back on Capitol Hill next week.
Last week, several Rhode Island mayors spoke out on the matter, with some suggesting Raimondo should hand over the reins to McKee. Others, like Hopkins, didn’t outright say they thought she should resign. But his tune seemed to change on Tuesday.
“I’ve talked to Mayor Picozzi, Mayor Lombardi, Mayor Elorza, Mayor Polisena in Johnston — we’re all on the same page,” Hopkins said, referring to the leaders of Warwick, North Providence and Providence, along with Johnston.
“We’re all feeling the same frustration,” he added. “We think that the leadership needs to be changed immediately.”
Hopkins, a Republican who took office in January, said he has nothing against the outgoing Democratic governor and wishes her well, but said he believes McKee is ready and willing to take over the state’s pandemic response, specifically the troubled vaccine rollout.
McKee released a statement Monday that was sharply critical of the Raimondo administration’s handling of the vaccine distribution. Hopkins echoed that sentiment, adding that he wants to see teachers be prioritized.
State officials said the next groups to receive the vaccine will be based on age, underlying health conditions and location, but not occupation.
Currently, people in the 75-and-older age group are able to get vaccinated in Rhode Island, along with health care workers, first responders, and people in congregate care settings.
After taking part in the state’s regional vaccine clinics last week, the city of Cranston opened its own clinic on Tuesday. Hopkins said city officials started by vaccinating Cranston’s oldest residents and are working their way down from there. As of Tuesday, they had reached people in their early 80s.