Senate panel holding hearing on lieutenant governor nominee

FILE - In this July 26, 2016, file photo, Rhode Island delegate Sabina Matos, right, watches a presentation during the second day session of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Gov. Daniel McKee named Matos, Providence City Council President, on Wednesday, March 31, 2021, as his lieutenant governor, making her the first Latina in state history to hold the job. McKee was twice elected lieutenant governor and served in the post for six years before being sworn in as governor when former Gov. Gina Raimondo stepped down after she was confirmed as President Joe Biden's commerce secretary.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island Gov. Daniel McKee on Wednesday nominated Providence City Council President Sabina Matos as his lieutenant governor, who if confirmed by the state Senate, will be the first person of color in state history to hold the job.

About 80 people initially applied for the job, but the Democratic governor said at a news conference that Matos shares his vision.

“In selecting a lieutenant governor, I was looking or someone to be a true governing partner," he said. “Someone who shares my commitment to supporting our 39 cities and towns and our small businesses, and that's exactly what I found in Sabina. I know that Sabina Matos will help our administration serve all Rhode Islanders as we recover and rebuild from this pandemic.”

He noted that she, like him — a former town councilor and mayor in his hometown of Cumberland — rose through the ranks of local politics.

Matos, 47, was first elected to the city council in 2010 and was voted president in 2019.

Matos said her priorities will be continuing the state’s coronavirus vaccination efforts, getting the state back to work and children up to speed in the classroom after the pandemic, and addressing what she called the “affordable housing crisis.”

“As the first Afro-Latina woman nominated to this post I am grateful for the governor’s commitment to diversity and inclusion," she said. “I look forward to working with him to further that vision for all Rhode Islanders upon my confirmation.”

Matos was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to the U.S. in 1994, according to her her official city biography. She lived in New York City for a short time before moving to Providence. She graduated from Rhode Island College in 2001 with a degree in communications and public relations. She is married with two children.

McKee was twice elected lieutenant governor and served in the post for six years before being sworn in as governor in early March when former Gov. Gina Raimondo stepped down after she was confirmed as President Joe Biden’s commerce secretary.

Under state law, McKee can select his own lieutenant governor, subject to Senate confirmation. The job pays nearly $123,000 annually but has few official duties, that has led to some saying it should be eliminated.

But McKee said: “Having been lieutenant governor I know the good work the office can do."

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