Ronald L. Rice
28th Legislative District of The State of New Jersey
Senator Ronald L. Rice is one of the most senior ranking legislators in the State of New Jersey, serving as Senator of the 28th Legislative District since November 1986.
He currently Co-Chairs both the Joint Committee on Economic Justice & Equal Employment Opportunity and the Joint Committee on the Public Schools. He is Vice Chair of the Community & Urban Affairs Committee and sits on the Health, Human Services & Senior Citizens Committee, as well as the Joint Committee on Housing Affordability. Over his 34-year tenure in the State House, the senator has been named Assistant Majority Leader 2008-09, Associate Minority Leader 1998-2001, Assistant Deputy Minority Leader 1994-97 and Assistant Majority Leader 1990-91.
Senator Rice has served as Chair of the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus since 2008 and has held key positions within the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, currently as Co-Chair of the Labor and Workforce Development Policy Committee. In March 2016, he was appointed by Governor Chris Christie to serve on the State Employment and Training Commission.
With a reputation for unfiltered honesty and a fierce dedication to the urban community he serves, Senator Rice is known for his civil rights and social justice commitments formed in childhood. Born December 18, 1945 in Richmond, Virginia, the Senator moved with his father to Newark, New Jersey in 1955. He attended Newark public schools, graduating from Malcolm X. Shabazz High School, formerly known as South Side High School.
The senator received an Associate of Arts Degree in Police Science from Essex County College, a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice, Administration & Planning from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice. Additionally, he attended Howard University and Rutgers Law School.
A decorated Vietnam Veteran, Senator Rice served the United States Marine Corps from 1966 to 1970. After his honorable discharge at the rank of sergeant, he joined the Newark Police Department, was promoted to detective and resigned in 1980. He was the first African American to hold the City of Newark’s West Ward Council seat from 1982-98 and served as Deputy Mayor from 2002-06. Once elected to the Senate, he became the first African American to hold an elected office in both state and local government.
Senator Rice has sponsored and supported legislation that impacts all facets of life in New Jersey and enhances the well being of residents from every community and economic status. Chief among his accomplishments are improvements that enrich New Jersey’s educational system from early-childhood to college and university level; providing millions of dollars of funding for programs addressing the unique, wide-ranging needs of urban areas; making health care more accessible, affordable and effective for residents of every age and background; providing meaningful growth opportunities for small and large business; and remediating and strengthening the state’s mass transit network.
Of particular concern to the senator are issues that expose social injustice and racial bias. He has been an outspoken advocate for the poor and marginalized, the overlooked and neglected. Most recently, he helped fellow legislators examine pending marijuana legislation bills through a social justice lens, highlighting their impact on black and brown communities. He is especially proud of the attention he brings to the challenges experienced by people of color, and all those in need of a strong, clear voice and unwavering support.