Providence City Council President Luis Aponte has resigned. This comes after more than a week of pressure on the embattled head to step down from his post.
Soon after Aponte was indicted on charges of felony embezzlement and misuse of campaign funds, other councilors, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, and Governor Gina Raimondo all called on him to vacate his position.
Aponte rebuffed these calls; saying stepping down would amount to an admission of guilt. What followed was a series of back-and-forths involving the embattled head and his fellow councilors.
A majority of the city council voted “no confidence” in his leadership early this week, and the city law department researched ways to strip Aponte of his duties.
The divide appeared to reach an impasse on Thursday when 13 of the city’s 15 councilors skipped a regular council meeting in apparent protest. At the time, Aponte appeared unmoved in his decision to retain his role, even chastising the other councilors for not appearing.
By Friday afternoon however, Aponte’s stance had clearly changed.
In a statement Aponte said quote “I have determined that it is in the best interest of my constituents to and colleagues to formally submit my resignation. While it has been a privilege to serve my colleagues as Council President, I believe this is the appropriate time to step down from my leadership position and focus on the best opportunities to serve the needs of my community.”
Aponte warned against a proposal to change the City Council rules, to allow members to remove a sitting president by majority vote.
“I understand that some of my Council colleagues wish to amend the Council Rules to allow for the removal of a Council President at any time. I urge my colleagues to take a more measured approach, and refrain from rushing into a reactive rules change that undermines our democratic principles.”
A special meeting is still scheduled for Monday to do just that. Aponte will continue to serve as a councilor. He was elected in 1998, and elected president in 2015.
Councilwoman Pro Tempore Sabina Matos is expected to serve as acting president, until a new leader is elected.