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The 2nd Most Powerful Man in Providence

Monday, January 31, 2011


On the first Monday of the new year, Providence City Hall was filled to capacity with everyone from Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee to the family and friends who came out to support the soon-to-be-sworn-in City Council. It was inauguration day and the energy in the building was obvious.

But lost in the overwhelming amount of attention paid to Mayor Angel Taveras, who had just delivered an inspiring speech to hundreds on the steps of City Hall, was the gentleman about to become the second most important man in Providence: Michael Solomon.

Short Tenure

After a narrow primary victory over incumbent Patrick Butler in 2006, Solomon, the Ward 5 Councilman, did not face a challenger in the most recent election. So rather than fighting for votes in his own neighborhood, he launched a campaign in which he would only need the support of eight of his fellow members of the City Council. Just after the September primary, he issued a press release confirming that he had acquired the necessary votes to become Council President.

Solomon is unlike many recent Council Presidents in that he has only just started his second term. In comparison, the two previous Presidents, Peter Mancini and John Lombardi, were veterans by the time they ascended to the top role. But while he’s short on experience as an elected official, Solomon, who briefly considered running for General Treasurer, is considered a talented politician who knows Providence as well as anyone.

“He’s been around for a long time,” Lombardi said. “His father was General Treasurer and he was on the Ward Committee. He grew up in Providence, knows the city and he’s clearly a politically savvy guy.”

While his father, Anthony, served six terms as the state’s General Treasurer, Solomon developed a reputation as a tireless worker and continued to work his way up the political ladder. Former Mayor Joe Paolino said he will make an excellent Council President.

Legislative Success

“I appointed him to the Providence Redevelopment Agency,” Paolino said. “He had a very good tenure on the PRA. He got a lot of exposure to neighborhood concerns and he has represented the Mount Pleasant and Elmhurst well.”

Solomon made headlines in 2009 as a Councilman when he proposed an ordinance that would prohibit youths under 18 to work in adult entertainment venues around the city. The legislation was met with almost universal support and passed in October of that year. He also sponsored the Worker Retention Ordinance, which requires employers to retain employees for at least six months following a change in management.

Both Lombardi and Paolino said Solomon was able to seize the Presidency thanks to the large turnover on this year’s Council. Seven new members were elected, leaving very few veterans to stand in his way.

“It’s not like one of the new Councilmen were going to be President,” Paolino said. “I like Michael Solomon a lot. He’s hard working. He’ll work 24/7 in that role.”

The new Council President has mostly stayed out of the public light in his first month at the helm. Although he supported Steven Costantino during the Mayoral race, Mayor Taveras’ spokesperson Melissa Withers said the two new leaders have “met and spoken many times over the last three weeks.”

Asserting Power

But Solomon’s influence has already been felt internally on the Council. Last week, GoLocalProv reported that he his leadership team had left four Councilmen completely off any of the six Standing Committees and this week, Chief of Staff Thomas Glavin stepped down.

There has been no indication as to who will replace Glavin, but a source close to the Council President said it will likely be someone close to Solomon.

“He knows what he’s doing,” the source said. “He’s making his mark on the Council.”

Note: Council President Solomon did not return multiple phone calls asking for comment.

Official Bio. Source: City of Providence

Councilman Michael Solomon was elected in 2006, and re-elected in 2010 to represent the Elmhurst and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods.

He carries on a tradition of public service established by his father, Anthony, who served six terms as Rhode Island’s General Treasurer.

A successful business owner, he is the proprietor of Wes’ Rib House and Cozy Catering, and is a member of the Olneyville Businessmen’s Association and the National Restaurant Association.

During the 2007-2011 term, Councilman Solomon served as:

• Chairperson of the Committee on Ordinances
• Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Public Works
• Member of the Committee on Finance
• Member of the Special Committee on Public Education
• Member of the Special Committee to Study and Make Amendments to PERA

Councilman Solomon is a member of the Knights of Columbus, the Lions Club, and the Chamber of Commerce.

He resides in Mount Pleasant with his wife Denise, and is the proud father of three daughters. 



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What does it tell you that the new Council president starts his tenure by refusing to talk to a reporter working on a profile of him?
Just wondering.
M. Charles Bakst

Comment #1 by Charlie Bakst on 2011 01 31

What it tells me is that the next four years in Providence have the potential to be disastrous. We have well intentioned but woefully inexperienced Mayor in Angel Tavares and Mr. Solomon who has no desire to get his hands dirty.

Comment #2 by Peter Sullivan on 2011 01 31

What does it tell you that a bitter old columnist who was forced into retirement has nothing better to do than leave snide remarks on every forum on the web?

Maybe you should take up golf, Charlie boy. We're doing just fine without you.

Comment #3 by Joel Wertheimer on 2011 02 01

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