EAST PROVIDENCE — As expected, James Briden and Joel Monteiro were chosen as the respective chairmen of the East Providence City Council and School Committee during inauguration ceremonies held Monday evening, Dec. 3, in the City Hall Chambers.
Both Mr. Briden and Mr. Monteiro were seated into their positions via unanimous 5-0 votes. Mr. Briden’s selection comes with the titles of Council president and mayor as well as a position on the East Providence Budget Commission.
Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg presided over the event, issuing the oath of office to all five incoming councilors and the same number of new school committee members.
Mr. Briden offered a brief acceptance speech. He touched upon the financial challenges facing the city currently and the need to have East Providence positioned correctly when the economy, both locally and nationally, improves. He said the city’s Waterfront District is the “blueprint for the extraordinary economic development that lies ahead.”
He concluded his remarks by expressing his “appreciation” to his fellow council members for electing him mayor and noting, “We will work well together over the next two years.”
Monday’s inauguration was a far cry from the last held in the city two years ago, when fireworks occurred between former Councilors William Conley and Bruce Rogers.
This time around, everyone and every motion had the full support of all five councilmen, including the re-election of Thomas Rose to the assistant mayor’s post. He, like Mr. Briden, received five yea votes, including those of newly-seated members Tracy Capobianco, Helder Cunha and Chrissy Rossi.
The new council selected Tim Chapman as the new city solicitor, replacing Orlando Andreoni. Bob Craven was reappointed as an assistant solicitor along with Greg Dias. Likewise, Christine Engustian was reappointed as Probate Judge. Matthew Dawson was selected as Associate Probate Judge. George Furtado was appointed new Municipal Court Judge, replacing Michael Farley.
“It’s very important that everyone on the council works together,” Mr. Briden reiterated after the ceremony. “I’m confident through the discussions I’ve had with each of them individually that working together will be one of our primary objectives.”
Mr. Briden not only is tasked with leading the council, he also must fill another, at the moment more important role, that of a Budget Commission member.
“The Budget Commission is here to help us achieve a more centralized way of operating the city,” Mr. Briden said. “I think that’s a core issue for several cities and towns in the state, and I believe its key for us to achieve financial stability.”
It should be noted per the state law establishing the Budget Commission, all appointments will not be final until that body formally confirms the decisions of the City Council and School Committee. Currently, the commission is considering a proposal to merge all legal representative for the entire city under one single firm.
Like the council, the new School Committee unanimously filled out the rest of its appointments Monday. Tim Conley was chosen as the vice chair to Mr. Monteiro. Elizabeth Clupny was selected as clerk. And Anthony Ferreira was named as the liaison to the City Council. Richard Pimentel was the fifth member of the committee seated Monday. Robert Silva was reappointed as the committee’s legal council.
“On behalf of the School Committee I want to thank everyone who voted and gave us their confidence to do our best for the East Providence School system,” Mr. Monteiro said to conclude his portion of the ceremony.
The City Council begins its work almost immediately, holding the first meeting of the new session Tuesday night, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m. in the City Hall Chambers.