HomeLearning CenterProvidence (RI) City Council is Now a Majority of People of Color and a Majority of Women

Providence (RI) City Council is Now a Majority of People of Color and a Majority of Women

Providence has sworn in its most diverse City Council ever, with a majority of people of color, a majority of women and a queer woman – Rachel Miller – as its president.

Seven new faces were added to the 15-member council during a swearing-in ceremony Monday, the first since the establishment of term limits. Miller’s leadership follows that of John Igliozzi, who concluded his term after more than two decades on the council.

“This council will put equity at the forefront,” Miller said, vowing to address housing affordability, public safety and a host of other matters.

“The council evolves with each generation and each election,” Miller said, adding that “each of us wants to make sure that this is a group that will engage one another in good faith.”

The event began with an invocation by Rochelle Lee, a highly active member of the community, who urged council members to be agents of change and address “challenges that only worsen with neglect.”

“Kicking the can down the road is no longer an option today, tomorrow or the days after,” she said.

Lee also spoke of inequities between the city’s “dangerous economic divide between haves and have-nots,” asking members to “treat all you meet as equally important as your neighbors, your local constituents and potential partners.

“If you do,” Lee said, “you will flourish as leaders.”

Speaking to reporters after the ceremony, Miller – similarly to newly inaugurated Mayor Brett Smiley – said affordable housing and education will be top-of-mind for the council. She cited an “excellent relationship” with Smiley, with whom Miller said she has already met with multiple times.

Apart from this year’s agenda, Miller also reflected on what it means to become the council’s first queer woman leader, stating that “being able to stand here with our colleagues to be open and proud and to have that leadership in the council means a lot.”

“It’s really moving,” Miller said. “It’s funny, when you start talking about the way in which representation matters, you really see it in the room – both the {council members] and also the families that were here today.”

The Providence Journal

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