Providence City Council President Sabina Matos Announces Decennial Ward Boundary Committee
The Committee Will be the Most Diverse in the Council’s History
Providence City Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15) tonight announced the creation of the Decennial Ward Boundary Committee, which for the first time in twenty years will be comprised of not only City Councilors but Providence residents as well.
“When I set out to form the Decennial Ward Boundary Committee I was clear that I wanted it to be a combination of sitting Councilors and Providence residents that would each bring a different perspective to how we shape our City’s voting districts with the goal to ensure a fair, inclusive and equitable process in determining the new ward boundaries committees,” stated Council President Sabina Matos. “I also wanted it to be as diverse as possible – including representatives from the African American community and the LGBTQIA+ community to ensure that we had a true cross-section of our diverse population. It’s also notable that the committee is led by a female majority – another first in the Council’s history.”
Every ten years, the City Council is responsible for revising and establishing the City’s ward boundaries. In order to accomplish this task, the Providence Home Rule Charter requires the City Council to convene a Committee on Ward Boundaries that will recommend new ward boundaries based on the most recent United States Census data. The Committee must be comprised of five members who are either members of the Council or qualified individuals who reside within the City of Providence.
In constructing the map of new ward boundaries, the committee on ward boundaries and the city council must insure that the boundaries are drawn in accordance with the following criteria:
(1) Equality of ward populations so far as practicable;
(2) Contiguousness of the territory of each ward;
(3) Wards shall comply with the federal Voting Rights Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 1971 and following).
(4) The geographic integrity of local neighborhood; and
(5) Geographical compactness such that nearby areas of population are not bypassed for more distant populations.
The Charter requires that the committee hold at least four public meetings, during which public comment will be accepted before creating a proposed map of ward boundaries. After the final plan is completed, it is then submitted to the full Council with a written report of findings and reasons for adoption, which will include: notation of all criteria employed in the process, a full analysis of their work, and a detailed explanation of the committee’s decisions. After these items are received, the City Council must host a public hearing before the plan can be adopted.
The Decennial Ward Boundary Committee will be comprised of:
Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr., who has served on the City Council since 2006 and whose term will end in December 2022, is an ideal choice for his institutional experience. As a lifelong resident of Providence, his knowledge of the City is unparalleled. Councilman Narducci represents the North End and part of the Wanskuck neighborhoods of Providence.
Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris, who was elected to the City Council in 2014, has strong roots in South Providence. She knows the neighborhoods and the south side of the City like no other. Her long and storied career is one of true resilience from being a welder to a community advocate. Her ongoing work to create genuinely affordable housing in Providence will be valuable skills in creating the new ward boundaries. Councilwoman Harris represents the neighborhoods of Upper South Providence and part of the West End.
Councilor Rachel Miller was elected to the City Council in 2018 and has been a fierce advocate for workers’ rights, equitable development, racial and environmental justice. Originally from New York, Miller moved to Providence in 2003 and quickly became involved in the community. She has been a vocal community activist and has worked to amplify the diverse voices of her community. She represents the historic Federal Hill and part of the West End neighborhoods.
Jessica Cigna has lived in Providence since 2007 and lives on the East Side of Providence. She is a senior data analyst with over 20 years of significant experience relating to the research and application of social policies, including the connections between education, housing, health, the social safety net, family economic success, neighborhood change, and revitalization. She serves on several community organization boards, and her skill set will be ideal in crafting the decennial ward boundary map.
Nick Freeman is a lifelong Providence native and currently lives in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood of the City. Nick brings with him a wealth of historical knowledge related to the City Council, where he served the body for 11 years as a policy and research analyst and then as the manager of policy and research. He currently is the assistant director at The Providence Foundation, where he advocates for policies and projects for the development of downtown and the City. His vast knowledge of the City Council and its various wards will be a great asset to the committee.
Council President Sabina Matos continued, “I believe that this cohort of exceptional committee members are ready to take on this historical task which will shape how our City is governed for the next decade. Further, I know they will do so engaging and listening with humility and with the best interest of our residents at the core of every decision they propose.”