Rachel Miller elected as Providence City Council President in historic first
After City Councilmembers were sworn in, Councilmember Rachel Miller (Ward 13) was unanimously elected President of the Providence City Council. President Miller has represented Federal Hill and part of the West End since 2018, and now also represents the Valley District. Council President Miller’s election is historic, as she is the first leader of the city council from the LGBTQ+ community.
On Monday, 15 members of the 2023-2027 Providence City Council were sworn in at City Hall during an official ceremony of the city’s legislative body. Eight councilors are returning to the Council and seven are new.
- Ward 1 – John Goncalves
- Ward 2 – Helen Anthony
- Ward 3 – Susan Anderbois
- Ward 4 – Justin Roias
- Ward 5 – Jo-Ann Ryan
- Ward 6 – Miguel Sanchez
- Ward 7 – Ana Vargas
- Ward 8 – James Taylor
- Ward 9 – Juan Pichardo
- Ward 10 – Pedro Espinal
- Ward 11 – Mary Kay Harris
- Ward 12 – Althea Graves
- Ward 13 – Rachel Miller
- Ward 14 – Shelley Peterson
- Ward 15 – Oscar Vargas
After the City Councilmembers were sworn in, Councilmember Rachel Miller (Ward 13) was unanimously elected President of the Providence City Council. President Miller has represented Federal Hill and part of the West End since 2018, and now also represents the Valley District. Council President Miller’s election is historic, as she is the first leader of the city council from the LGBTQ+ community.
“For the first time, a majority of councilmembers are people of color, and for the second time, women make up a majority on the council,” said Council President Miller. “We are the youngest council in many years – if not ever. And for the first time, Providence has elected an open member of the LGBTQ community as President of this Council. As a queer woman, that is an honor that I do not take lightly. I want to thank each of you for your confidence in my leadership as we chart this new path for our city…
“This council will put equity at the forefront,” said Council President Miller. “and we will see that as we do our work together to address issues of affordability, public safety, the quality of our schools and and the state of our school buildings, and ensuring equitable access to city services…
“We have an opportunity to lead collaboratively with one another and with residents & businesses in our neighborhoods, to let differences in opinion strengthen our decisions and to be a beacon of integrity and transparency in our decision-making. And we have big decisions coming our way – from stewarding the city’s next 10-year comprehensive plan for land-use and zoning to shepherding the return of our public schools to local control, to passing the city budget annually and ensuring that budget reflects our values and priorities…
“Let’s engage in good faith, let’s recognize that our shared love for our city unites us, and let’s do all we can to work together to move Providence forward.”
The City Council also elected Councilmember Juan Pichardo (Ward 9) as Pro Tempore of the City Council. Pichardo was recently elected in November and has been a resident of Providence for 43 years. Councilmember Pichardo served as a Rhode Island State Senator for 14 years and is a 22-year veteran of the United States Airforce/National Guard, retiring at the rank of Master Sergeant.
“I am honored to serve my constituents in the Providence City Council and grateful to my council colleagues for electing me to a leadership role,” said Councilmember Pichardo. “I plan to listen and work together with my colleagues. I bring my legislative and life experiences to the council and am passionate about making a difference not only in my neighborhood but across our great city.”
At a previous meeting, held before Monday’s inauguration, the Council’s Democratic City Caucus chose Councilmember James Taylor (Ward 8) as Majority Leader, Councilmember Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11) as Deputy Majority Leader, Councilmember John Goncalves (Ward 1) as Senior Deputy Majority Leader, and Councilmember Miguel Sanchez (Ward 6) as Majority Whip.
Councilors also unanimously elected Tina Mastroianni as City Clerk for a four-year term. Mastroianni has been a city employee for 27 years, most recently serving as Acting City Clerk since November 2021.
Council President Miller announced the selection of Sean Bouchard as the Council’s Chief of Staff. Bouchard has been a licensed attorney in the State of Rhode Island since 2015, with main areas of focus on real estate, land-use, and zoning. He has served as the Director of Policy and Research for the City Council since 2019.