With six councilors absent, the Providence City Council on Monday voted, 9-0, to schedule a May 2 recall election of Ward 3 Councilor Kevin Jackson.
Jackson, who was among the six councilors not present for the vote, was arrested in May 2016 on charges of misusing campaign contribution and embezzling more than $127,000 from a youth sports organization. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
"We're pleased that the City Council has scheduled the recall election for May 2, honoring the petition of Ward 3 residents, and following both city and state legal requirements," Tricia Kammerer, a leader of the recall effort, said in a statement. "In overwhelming numbers, voters are ready to vote 'Yes' to the recall question on Tuesday, May 2, which would pave the way for new, honest leadership for our ward."
Jackson resigned his previous post as majority leader following his arrest, but he remains on the council. He was first elected to the council in 1995 and represents a part of the East Side that includes the Mount Hope section.
The recall was set in motion when more than 20 percent of the registered voters in Ward 3 signed petitions expressing support for the move.
City Council President Luis Aponte said he had mixed feelings about voting to schedule the recall election.
"Kevin Jackson is a friend of mine, has been a friend for many years, and I'm somewhat heartbroken that we've gotten to this point," Aponte said, "but we are called upon to comply with the city charter and state law, and that's what we did."
Besides Aponte, the other councilors voting in favor of scheduling the recall were Seth Yurdin of Ward 1; Samuel Zurier of Ward 2; Jo-Ann Ryan of Ward 5; Michael Correia of Ward 6; John Igliozzi of Ward 7; Wilbur Jennings of Ward 8; David Salvatore of Ward 14; and Sabina Matos of Ward 15.
Other than Jackson, the absent councilors were Nicholas Narducci of Ward 4; Carmen Castillo of Ward 9; Mary Kay Harris of Ward 11; Terrence Hassett of Ward 12; and Bryan Principe of Ward 13.
Aponte said the absences during a rare mid-day meeting for the council reflects "people's everyday lives and the fact that we're a part-time council."
Aponte rejected suggestions that a letter sent by Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea prompted the council to act on the recall issue. He said previous uncertainty of the timing of the council's vote on the recall was due to a 10-day discrepancy between the pertinent state law and the city charter.
"I was not trying to in any way not comply with the requirements of the city charter," Aponte said.
Zurier, who was among five councilors who petitioned for quicker action on the recall vote, said he was grateful to his colleagues for meeting and putting the election in place. "We were backed up against a deadline, so we did what we thought was necessary," he said.
Jackson still has two pending appeals, questioning some of the signatures used to build support for the recall, before the state Board of Elections.
Aponte said he had spoken with Jackson about the recall vote, but he declined to share details of the conversation.
"I've always said and maintained that that is his decision to make, and I'm not going to urge him in one direction or another," Aponte said.
Aponte said Jackson had worked very hard for his constituents in Ward 3.