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State Sen. Ronald L. Rice (D-Newark). (Photo: Office of Senator Rice.)

Statements on the retirement of Senator Ronald Rice

By David Wildstein, August 19 2022 2:05 pm

GOVERNOR PHIL MURPHY

“Ron Rice will leave the state Senate as one of its most transformational members, a true maverick whose legacy of legislative successes will stand clearly on its own. He understood that public office is not about doing what’s best for individual politics or promotion but what’s right for the people we serve. He forced his fellow legislators – and to be sure, governors – to confront uncomfortable truths and wasn’t afraid to be a lone voice of dissent if he believed such dissent shined a light on injustice. In doing so, he made us all better at our jobs. While I have no doubt Ron will continue to advocate forcefully for social justice and the betterment of every community of color so long as he is able, his resignation leaves a huge void in the Legislature that will be hard to fill. I will always be proud to have called him my partner but even prouder to call him my friend.”

SENATE PRESIDENT NICHOLAS SCUTARI

“Ron Rice is an accomplished and admired public official who has dedicated much of his life to the service of others. He served our country as a decorated Marine in Vietnam, he served his home City of Newark as a police detective, member of City Council and Deputy Mayor, and he served the residents of his district and the people of New Jersey for 36 years in the Legislature.  Ron stood-up and spoke out for what he believed in and fought for the needs of the underprivileged.  He left his mark in meaningful and lasting ways.”

FORMER GOVERNOR RICHARD CODEY

“It’s a sad day for me and my family, he is probably my closest friend in the Legislature. We’ve shared many good times and many tough times. In my house, I have a big picture of myself, my wife, and Ron from after I won the race in a new district, which could have tilted either way. We won handily and Ron was there every step of the way. I had a good long conversation with him recently where we reminisced about decades of memories and laughed a lot. I look forward to seeing him again soon as he enters this new chapter.

“I look forward to working with whoever fills his seat—they will certainly have very big shoes to fill.”

SENATE MAJORITY LEADER TERESA RUIZ

“Senator Ronald L. Rice lived his commitment to public service over a lifetime of hard work, sacrifice and dedication to the residents of Newark, his legislative district and the State of New Jersey. He was a trailblazer in so many ways, from his days as a Newark police officer, to his role in Newark City government and his leadership of the Legislative Black Caucus. His service helped open doors of opportunity for others, like myself, and his record of accomplishments will provide lasting benefits for succeeding generations.

“I will miss having Ron in the Senate. We didn’t always agree on all the issues but we were always united in our efforts to protect the rights of others and to fight for the needs of the disadvantaged. He is a consummate gentleman who was a valued ally in times of challenge.

“Ron is a man of principle who leaves a legacy of achievement that deserves our respect and appreciation. People will call him a noble public servant, a trailblazer, and a fierce advocate but, at the end of the day, I call Ron a friend.”

ASSEMBLYWOMAN MILA JASEY

“I had the pleasure of working with Senator Ronald Rice on a daily basis while representing the West Ward years ago, and for a decade he was my own Senator.

“Ron’s first priority has always been serving the people he represents.  Essex County and all of New Jersey is much better off thanks to his lifetime of public service.

“Ron is leaving behind a lasting legacy in the halls of the Statehouse in Trenton. His accomplishments, his vast knowledge of issues facing our communities, and his grit to keep getting into ‘good trouble’ make him an institution in New Jersey politics. We are unlikely to see another public servant like him. You will be missed in Trenton, my friend.”

ASSEMBLY SPEAKER CRAIG COUGHLIN

“Senator Ronald Rice is a model public servant. As a veteran, a Newark Police Officer, a Newark City Council Member, and a State Senator, he has dedicated his life to public service and worked diligently on behalf of his constituents.

“During his 35 years in the legislature, Senator Rice has tirelessly worked to improve the lives of countless New Jerseyans, helping to uplift our communities and make our state a better place for all.

“Senator Rice was a deft legislator and long-time leader of the Legislative Black Caucus who fought ferociously for the causes he held near and dear to his heart—economic opportunity, a thorough and efficient education for all students and a criminal justice system that worked for all. Countless young people, many now adults from our urban centers, have much to be thankful for from Senator Rice’s staunch advocacy on their behalf.

“Always resolute in his convictions, Senator Rice was always a gentleman and statesman who respected our governmental institutions and traditions. I know for many legislators he was a mentor and friend.

“I thank Senator Rice for his many years of service and wish him well in retirement. His presence and steadfast commitment to the people of New Jersey will be greatly missed in the State House. On a personal note, I will miss him and fondly remember our spontaneous interactions and conversations.”

LOGAN MAYOR FRANK MINOR

“Senator Ron Rice has spent a lifetime working to improve the lives of others. He’s never been afraid to stand up and speak truth to power, regardless of personal consequences. I can attest to the fact that Senator Rice is always among the first to reach out and offer assistance to newly elected officials, even when they don’t live in his district. His wise counsel is widely sought and freely given. His dedication, courage, compassion and mentorship sets a high bar for others to follow. I wish Senator Rice all the best on his well-earned retirement.”

FORMER SENATE MINORITY LEADER THOMAS KEAN, JR.

“I have known Ron Rice since I was in high school. He has always been both candid and passionate. It was a privilege to learn from, and serve with, Ron in the Senate. He fought fiercely for the people he represented and he has left a strong legacy in the Legislature.”

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