Where are the women in Mattiello leadership choices?

Mar 28, 2014

Nick Mattiello has only been House Speaker for two days. So it may not be fair to criticize his committee and leadership choices; he had to throw together his team very quickly.

But it hasn’t escaped notice that Mattiello’s new team has given women lawmakers short shrift.

The new speaker has named three committee chairs: Ray Gallison, D-Bristol, takes over the House Finance Committee; Cale Keable, D-Burrillville, assumes control of the Judiciary Committee; and Robert Craven, D-North Kingstown becomes the new chairman of the Municipal Affairs Committee.

Keable replaces a woman, Rep. Edith Ajello, as chair of the Judiciary panel, an important committee through which all major law changes must clear.

Three leadership lawmakers have been installed a top lieutenants of the new speaker: Rep. John DeSimone, D-North Providence, is the majority leader, an influential post. Jay Edwards, D-Tiverton, has been appointed House Whip. And Joseph Almeida, D-Providence, is the new deputy whip.

Mattiello did appoint  two women to what can only be considered as lower level, even token positions: Doreen Costa, R-North Kingstown, will become vice-chairwoman of Judiciary and Lisa Tomasso, D-Coventry, was given a lower position.

The speaker's new chief of staff: Leo Skeynon, a veteran Democratic operative.

While it may be too soon to criticize Mattiello, Rhode Island’s 223rd speaker, for shunning women in leadership, you can be sure such groups that advocate more women in government will be taking notice.