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PowerPlayer: Providence Councilwoman Sabina Matos

Monday, February 06, 2012


This week’s PowerPlayer is Providence City Councilwoman Sabina Matos. Councilwoman Matos was kind enough to chat with us about her first year on the Council and her vision for the future of the city.

1. You've been praised for your work in your first year on the Council, which is why you were appointed to the finance committee recently. Tell us about what you're most proud of.

I take this responsibility to my constituents very seriously and understood right away that I had to overcome the learning curve as quickly as possible. It became increasingly clear to me that many of the City's most critical issues were vetted in the Committee on Finance. I made it a point to attend nearly every meeting of that committee, which I was not a member of, to learn, ask questions and be heard.

Additionally, I have been a vocal advocate for reforms to the City's tax structure and was able to learn a lot - and be heard - during meetings of the Revenue Commission, of which I was not a member either. I believe you have to be present in order to be part of the process.

2. The city is facing a financial crisis. Give us three ways to solve the problem.

Number one, we need to get the big tax-exempts to pay their fair share. Residential taxpayers are at the breaking point.

Second, we need to reform pensions so they are fair and sustainable.

Third we need to reform the City's tax structure to make it more predictable and clear thus encouraging more businesses to invest and grow here.

3. Take us through a day in your life.

Well, I will pick a Thursday because every day is different. My husband and I start by getting the kids ready for school and day care. I drop my children off and get ready to head into my job at New Roots Providence, at The Providence Plan. After work I spend some time returning constituents' calls and emails, and calling City Departments to follow up on pending issues throughout my Ward. Then I head out to meetings related to the City Council and Ward 15. There is usually a committee meeting around 5:00pm followed by a leadership meeting. The full council then meets until around 8:30pm.

During the course of the day I will check in with my husband, who works in Boston. My parents help me out a lot with child care on those days when my council responsibilities stretch late into the evening. Once we are all home we sit down for dinner, help my son with his homework, read the kids a bed time story and straighten out the house before catching the 10:00pm news.

4. What are your goals for the next three years?

I plan on doing everything I can to stimulate economic development and employment in my Ward while improving the neighborhood's image. This is a dynamic area of the city that is full of potential. I also want to help reform the City's tax structure and ensure that Providence's financial future is solid.

5. Tell us something nobody knows about you.

When you are in politics it is hard to think about something that people don’t already know about you. I went to school in the same building from the first grade through my senior year. That was the only school in the area and they taught grades 1 to 6 during the day and 7 to 12 at night.

Quick Hitters

Role Model: In politics, it is definitely Hillary Clinton. In life, it is my parents. Their willingness to give of themselves selflessly to help other is just amazing to me. Finally, every working mother; I am always asking them for ideas and advise.

Favorite Restaurant: My husband and I are big fans of small mom and pop Italian restaurants.

Best Beach: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Best Book You've Read in the Last Year: I just started reading the Steve Jobs biography and so far it is at the top of my list.

Advice for the Next Sabina Matos:

• Dream big. There is really no limit to what you can achieve if you work hard for it.

• Find mentors (plural). No one person has all the answer to everything.

• Be aware that nobody is perfect; but at the same time recognize and do give credit to people every time it is due. Even to those you disagree with.

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