PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence City Council President Sabina Matos won the unanimous approval of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, setting up a full Senate vote on her confirmation as soon as Tuesday.
Matos was nominated to the statewide office by Gov. Dan McKee last week, after McKee vacated the job to ascend to governor following the resignation of Gov. Gina Raimondo, who became the U.S. Commerce Secretary.
“If I’m confirmed by the Senate, I stand ready to work hard for the residents of Rhode Island,” Matos told the committee. “Together we will tackle the issues that are most important to our residents: getting vaccines in arms, getting people back to work, addressing the affordable housing crisis, and helping our small business community get back from this global pandemic.”
Describing herself as a “Black immigrant woman” and Afro-Latina, Matos told the story of her journey to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic in the 90s, where she learned English, went to Rhode Island College and eventually was elected to the City Council.
“This is a privilege I would never have dreamed of when I arrived in this country in 1994 from the Dominican Republic and spoke little English,” Matos said.
Her swift expected confirmation comes after a lengthy application and interview process by McKee that involved more than 70 applicants, an unusual exercise for a position that is typically elected by voters statewide.
McKee testified before the Senate committee Thursday, telling the panel he and Matos plan to visit all 39 cities and towns in the first 100 days of his administration.
“Sabina has been hand-in-hand with me visiting businesses in Providence, in her community, she’s ready to do that at the state level,” McKee said.
McKee has pledged to consider Matos a member of his administration, which is not always the case with governors and lieutenant governors, since they are elected separately in Rhode Island.
Prior to the bipartisan vote in favor of Matos, multiple senators praised the council president for her work in Providence.
“Sabina Matos is a source of great pride in the city of Providence,” said Sen. Maryellen Goodwin, D-Providence. “To be able to be council president in a city like Providence is no easy task. It is not for the faint of heart.”
“That’ll be a harder job than being lieutenant governor, Sabina,” she added.
Sen. Ana Quezada, who is also Dominican-American, said Matos’ confirmation would make her the highest-ranking Dominican woman in the United States.
Matos has said she plans to run for a full term as lieutenant governor in 2022, when McKee also plans to run for governor.
Matos has said she will resign from the Providence City Council after she is confirmed, with Councilman John Igliozzi expected to ascend to acting president because he is the most senior member on the council.
It’s unclear if Igliozzi — who is seeking the permanent president post — or any other member will achieve the 8 votes needed to be elected president in the immediate future. A special election is expected to be held to fill Matos’ seat in Ward 15.