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The recounts that could decide the Providence City Council presidency

Providence City Hall.Blake Nissen for the Boston Globe

We already know that Brett Smiley will be the next mayor of Providence because he doesn’t have an opponent in the general election, and we could soon get a clearer picture of who will be City Council president – the No. 2 elected office in the city.

Current Council President John Igliozzi, who represents Ward 7, is term-limited.

But first, recounts.

Of the nine requests for a recount that will be considered by the state Board of Elections at a 10 a.m. meeting today, six have come from council candidates who appear to have lost tight Democratic primary races last week.


Ward 3

Current councilor: Nirva LaFortune (ran for mayor)

General election: Independent Michael Fink is running.

Susan Anderbois and Corey Jones each received more votes than any other council candidate in Providence, but only one will advance. Anderbois currently holds a 1,245 to 1,217 lead, and will likely hold on to the victory after a recount. The winner of this race could become remarkably influential for a new councilor because they could be the all-important eighth vote to secure the council presidency for either Councilman Pedro Espinal or Councilwoman Rachel Miller.

Ward 4

Current councilor: Nick Narducci (term-limited)

General election: No one else is running.

Justin Roias leads Joseph Casoli 574 to 531, and it’s unlikely that Casoli will be able to catch up in a recount. Narducci, the outgoing councilor, is one of the more conservative members of the current council, and Roias would be among the most progressive voices on the new council.

Ward 10

Current councilor: Pedro Espinal

General election: No one else is running.

Espinal is attempting to piece together the votes to be council president, and he currently holds a 661 to 610 lead over Natalia Rosa Sosa for a seat that always seems to have a close Democratic primary. Rosa Sosa won the votes cast on primary day, but Espinal built a lead thanks to a healthy advantage with mail ballots.


Ward 12

Current councilor: Kat Kerwin (didn’t run)

General election: Independent Seangsouk Keobouthanh is running.

In the closest race of all (with the lowest turnout by far), Althea Graves holds a 283 to 270 lead over Belen Florez. Graves won the primary day vote, while Florez narrowly won both the early vote and mail ballots.

Ward 14

Current councilor: David Salvatore (term-limited)

General election: No one else is running

Shelley Peterson holds a 450 to 422 lead over Andrew Poyant in this race, which will be difficult to overcome in a recount. Peterson’s campaign was managed by Jason Roias (the brother of Ward 4′s Justin), who is quickly becoming the most successful campaign manager in the city.

Ward 15

Current councilor: Oscar Vargas

General election: No one else is running.

This was Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos’ seat before Governor Dan McKee picked her to be his No. 2, and Vargas won a special election last year to take over. In his first bid for a four-year term, Vargas holds a big lead over Santos Javier, and should easily retain the seat after a recount.

So how will the council presidency shake out?

As it stands now, the frontrunners appear to be Espinal in Ward 10 and Miller in Ward 13, while councilors James Taylor of Ward 8 and Jo-Ann Ryan of Ward 5 aren’t counting themselves out just yet.

The East Side (Wards 1, 2, and 3), which has never had a council president, is going to play a major role in deciding the winner. John Goncalves of Ward 1 supports Espinal, while Helen Anthony of Ward 2 is behind Miller. Meanwhile, in the open race in Ward 3, Miller and Anthony supported Anderbois, while Espinal and Goncalves backed Jones.


This story first appeared in Rhode Map, our free newsletter about Rhode Island that also contains information about local events, data about the coronavirus in the state, and more. If you’d like to receive it via e-mail Monday through Friday, you can sign up here.

Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.