Matos sworn in as Rhode Island’s lieutenant governor

Sabina Matos talks with reporters outside the State House right after being sworn-in as Gov. Dan McKee’s choice as Rhode Island Lieutenant Governor. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Sabina Matos made history Wednesday when she was sworn in as Rhode Island’s lieutenant governor, the first person of color to hold the post.

Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea administered the oath of office in a brief ceremony at the State House attended by Democratic Gov. Dan McKee and Matos’ husband, Patrick Ward, and two children, Annemarie and Diego.

“The state of Rhode Island faces many challenges ahead, and together we will tackle the issues that are most important to our residents: getting vaccines in arms, getting people back to work, addressing the affordable housing crisis, and helping our small business community get back on its feet,” the Democratic Matos said in a statement. “I promise to work diligently for the people of our state every single day.”

Matos, 47, is the former president of the Providence City Council and identifies as Afro-Latina.

She was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to the U.S. in 1994. She was first elected to the city council in 2010 and was voted president in 2019.

McKee, the former lieutenant governor, took over as governor when Gina Raimondo was named President Joe Biden’s commerce secretary. Under state law, McKee is allowed to nominate the lieutenant governor. Matos was selected out of about 80 initial applicants and unanimously confirmed by the state Senate on Tuesday.

The lieutenant governor has few officials duties, but McKee says he envisions the two offices working closer together.

“Today, history was made in Rhode Island,” McKee said. “I am honored to welcome Lt. Gov. Matos to our team as we come together to address the challenges facing our state and meet this crucial moment head on.”

A public inauguration ceremony will be held in the future.