PROVIDENCE – The R.I. Senate voted to confirm Sabina Matos as the state’s 70th lieutenant governor on Tuesday at Rhode Island College.
Matos, 47, who sat in the front row surrounded by her family awaiting the vote at Sapinsley Hall, will be the first Afro-Latina to serve as the state’s second-in-command.
“It’s not lost on me that this is a historic moment,” she said. “It’s truly an honor, and I promise to work hard to make you proud.”
Matos will fill the seat vacated by Gov. Daniel J. McKee, who became Rhode Island’s 76th governor on March 2 after former Gov. Gina M. Raimondo resigned to become the U.S. commerce secretary. Matos has been touring the state with McKee since being nominated for the position on March 31.
Matos, who was born in the Dominican Republic and immigrated to the United States in 1994, has served on the Providence City Council representing Ward 15 since 2010. She was the first Latina council president pro tempore and the first Latina council president in the city’s history.
Matos graduated from Rhode Island College in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in communications and public relations. She lives in Olneyville with her husband, Patrick Ward, and their two children, Diego and Annemarie.
The lieutenant governor is paid a salary of $123,000 annually and serves the office in primarily an advisory role with no authority over policymaking decisions. The office has a budget of about $1 million and support staff at its 82 Smith St. address at the Statehouse.
McKee congratulated Matos and said he was thrilled to have her join his team.
“Sabina understands the challenges facing Rhode Island families and she shares my commitment to supporting our municipalities and small businesses,” he said. “I look forward to having her as my governing partner as we work to get shots in arms as quickly as possible so we can get Rhode Islanders back to work, businesses back in business and students back in the classroom safely.”
Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea said, “Our best public policies come when we have a variety of backgrounds and opinions around the policymaking table, and I look forward to having another woman of color included in these discussions.”
Members of the Senate weighed in with their thoughts in support of Matos, noting her dedication and work ethic as a public servant.
“In testimony before the Judiciary Committee, Ms. Matos was universally praised for being a devoted, knowledgeable and tireless public servant,” said Senate Chairwoman Cynthia Armour Coyne, D-Barrington. “She has earned the reputation of being dedicated to improving the community and for working to better the lives of all those she serves.”
Sen. Frank A. Ciccone III, D-North Providence, said Matos is “uniquely qualified for the position” with her experience on the Providence City Council. “I am confident that Ms. Matos is the ideal individual to serve as lieutenant governor,” he said.
Sen. Samuel W. Bell, D-Providence, said Matos has the credentials to serve as the next lieutenant governor. “I am confident because I have seen the work she has done. She will do a fantastic job advocating for the small-business community all across our state.”
Matos will be sworn in as lieutenant governor on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. in the State Room at the Statehouse.
Cassius Shuman is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Shuman@PBN.com.
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