Amo will be sworn in as RI congressman before election results certified. Here’s why.
Gabe Amo was officially been sworn in as Rhode Island’s newest congressman on Monday night, less than a week after winning the special election to replace former U.S. Rep. David Cicilline.
Before taking the oath of office, Amo was introduced by Congressman Seth Magaziner, who noted that the two have known each other since they were teenagers.
As one of the original 13 colonies, Rhode Island has been electing representatives to Congress since 1790, Magaziner pointed out.
“And in those 233 years,” he said. “Rhode Island has never sent an African-American or any person of color to Congress until today.”
“But Gabe Amo will be the first to tell you he did not come here to make history,” Magaziner went on. “He came here to make a difference for working people like his parents who immigrated to the United States from Ghana and Liberia. Gabe’s mother Weady is a nurse. His father Gabriel runs the family liquor store.”
“They came to America because they believe in the promise of this country. They settled in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, a diverse blue collar community of brick mills and triple decker houses where people value a hard day’s work. This is where Gabe Amo comes from, and he has chosen to devote his career to public service.”
In his own remarks before the House of Representatives, Amo told the story the Rev. Mahlon Van Horne, who in 1885 became the first Black person elected to Rhode Island’s General Assembly.
“Reverend Van Horne’s dream and the dreams of those who have called Rhode Island home across generations allow me to stand before you today,” he said. “And while we have not arrived at our final destination in this project of our democracy, I am optimistic. As a Rhode Islander, it’s easy for me. After all, our state motto is ‘Hope.’ It is hope that led my parents to come from West Africa — my dad from Ghana, my mom from Liberia — to pursue opportunity in the greatest country in the world.”
Amo went on: “But this is not just my story, it’s a Rhode Island story, it’s an American story, and that shared story is why today I am proud to be the representative from Rhode Island’s first Congressional District.”
“And what is beautiful about hope is that it cares not about your race, your religion, your gender, or where your ancestors came from. This belief has inspired people who arrived in Rhode Island from Italy and Ireland, Portugal and France, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Columbia, Armenia, and yes, countries in West Africa, and so many places in between. And I of course must acknowledge those whose family branches extend from the native tribes of our shores to the settlers who came for religious freedom to those who did not choose their journey because they were enslaved people, but whose hope persisted nonetheless together.”
His reason for serving in Congress, he said, was to “ensure our great hope for the future is met with profound action.
The timing of the swearing-in is unusual: The Rhode Island Board of Elections won’t meet to certify the results of the election until Wednesday.
Election officials said last week that they’d been asked to certify the winner of the election as soon as possible so that there would be enough votes to avert a potential government shutdown.
In a letter dated Oct. 23, Kevin McCumber, acting clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, asked Rhode Island Secretary of State Gregg Amore to send “a statement from your office on official letterhead transmitting the unofficial election results” and whether they were any challenges or recounts “as soon as possible after the Special Election.”
Amore did so last Wednesday. “To the best of our knowledge and belief at this time, there is no contest to this election,” he wrote in the letter.