Leaders sworn in; Moran stays put as council president

Leaders sworn in; Moran stays put as council president

Members of the new City Council gather virtually for their first meeting of 2021 on Monday.

PAWTUCKET – Local elected leaders, including three new members of the City Council, took the oath of office on Monday, officially being sworn in for two-year terms as part of a virtual inauguration ceremony.

City Council President David Moran will serve another two years as council president after his colleagues elected him in an 8-1 vote. New Councilor Melissa DaRosa voted no on Councilor Terry Mercer’s nomination.

Mercer said he was honored to nominate a “longstanding and dedicated public servant” in Moran who “strives for nothing more than one thing: the betterment of the city of Pawtucket.” Councilor Tim Rudd seconded the nomination.

Mayor Donald Grebien, after being sworn in by City Clerk Rick Goldstein, administered the oath of office to council and school board members, including new council members DaRosa, Ama Amponsah, and Alexis Schuette.

Grebien acknowledged the impacts of the pandemic, urging residents to never be afraid to reach out to someone for help. Pawtucket always overcomes challenges, he said, and he’s confident that all elected officials will put in the hard work residents deserve to help the city overcome this latest one.

The mayor, first elected in 2010, thanked residents for again putting their faith in him and other leaders to help lead Pawtucket to the “next era of prosperity.” The 2020 election was one unlike any other, he said, but residents showed that they have confidence in the direction the city is going. He said his administration will continue to focus on what it’s always focused on, including transparency and honesty, improved quality of life, a better educational system, improved economic development, and investments in safety, among others.

Moran, in comments following his election as council president, acknowledged departed Councilor John Barry III for his 33 years on the council, as well as Councilors Meghan Kallman and Albert Vitali Jr., before describing what he envisions from the council in the coming years, including a board that is not afraid to tackle tough issues and make hard decisions.

Moran pledged to be patient and persistent and always professional as the council continues to help the administration bring progress and investments, including in new development on the riverfront, a commuter rail station, and quality of life enhancements for residents. The next several months of the pandemic will be difficult ones, he said, but residents deserve a tireless commitment from the council to work for increased economic development, better education, and top-of-the-line public services.

Members of Rhode Island’s federal delegation, as well as Attorney Gen. Peter Neronha, spoke at Monday’s virtual event, all saying that Grebien and these leaders have what it takes to lead Pawtucket through this unprecedented and difficult time.

Wildenhain made the motion to again nominate Mercer, a man with “common decency and common sense,” who’s “always responsive,” as council president pro tempore, to serve in Moran’s absence. That vote was unanimous.

In a motion on council rules after the election of Moran and Mercer, Schuette sought to remove all pronouns stating “his” or “her,” with either gender neutral ones such as “them” and “their” or ones specific to positions. Mercer seconded that motion, saying he’d spoken with Schuette that afternoon about the idea and thought it was a good one. He said he felt it was most appropriate, and Schuette agreed, to eliminate rule 24, which states that “every word in these rules importing the masculine gender only may be construed to extend to and to include females as well as males,” and simply utilize a reiteration of the original noun being referred to, such as “president,” “member,” or “resident.” This way, he said, everyone is on equal footing.

Monday’s inauguration and organizational meeting adjourned in memory of Charlotte Tavares, longtime chairwoman of the Board of Canvassers who died of COVID-19. Tavares was a wonderful wife to former council fiscal adviser Alan Tavares, a fantastic mother, and an exceptional educator and school administrator, said Mercer, and it was a “capper on an awful 2020” to learn of the death of “such a vibrant fighter. She’ll be greatly missed in this city.”

Moran also remembered his good friend, saying she was a wonderful woman and incredibly knowledgeable, especially on politics. She and Alan had recently sold their Pawtucket home and were looking to move to the suburbs of northern Rhode Island, he said, looking forward to spending good years together, making this news all the more awful.