Senator Ronald L. Rice was first elected to the New Jersey State Senate, representing the 28th Legislative District, by special election on November 18, 1986, filling the unexpired term of the late John P. Caufield. He was sworn into office on December 4, 1986. Senator Rice has since been re-elected to seven additional terms, in 1987, 1991, 1993, 1997, 2001, 2003 and 2007.
Senator Rice is best known for fighting for the rights of the people, unbossed, and his refusal to be controlled by individuals and special interest groups who simply want to become politically involved for their own personal gain.
Prior to his Senate election, Senator Rice held the distinction of being the first African-American to hold Newark Municipal Council's West Ward Council seat. Senator Rice also served as the City of Newark's Deputy Mayor from 2002-2006. Further, making history as a State Senator and Newark Councilman, Senator Rice was the first African-American in the history of the state of New Jersey to hold both a state government elected office and local government elected office simultaneously.
Born in Richmond, Virginia Senator Rice moved to Newark, New Jersey with his family in 1955. He graduated from South Side High School (now Malcolm X Shabazz) and also attended Essex County College (Who's Who in America honors), Howard University, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, (Cum Laude honors), Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice where he received his Masters Degree (Deans List honors) and Rutgers University Law School.
Senator Rice is a Vietnam Veteran. He served in the United States Marine Corps from 1966 to 1970, and was Honorably Discharged with the rank of Sergeant, and several honors including a good conduct medal.
Senator Rice joined the Newark Police Department in 1972 and served as a Detective until he resigned in 1980.
Senator Rice is currently Vice Chair of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee, and he holds membership on the Senate Health, Human Services & Senior Citizens Committee, the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, and the Joint Committee on Public Schools. During his tenure in the Senate, Senator Rice has served as the Senate Assistant Deputy Majority Leader, the Assistant Deputy Minority Leader, Associate Minority Leader, Chairman of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee, Vice Chair of the Senate Law and Public Safety and Veteran Affairs Committee, and a member of the Senate Environment, Education, and Budget and Appropriations Committees. Senator Rice has served on several national committees including the National League of Cities Energy Environment and Natural Resources Committee as Vice Chairman, the Sub-Committee on Energy as Chairman the American Association of Blacks in Energy and the National Caucus and Center on Black Aged, Inc.
Over the years, Senator Rice has sponsored legislation that has literally brought millions of dollars in State aid to the 28th District. The funding has helped local government keep taxes down for hard-working residents and homeowners. Senator Rice has also sponsored legislation designed to continue funding programs for children, seniors and disabled residents throughout the State. He has been instrumental in securing funding to help prevent the layoffs of police and fire personnel, as well as money to help renovate and restore abandoned buildings in New Jersey's urban areas. Senator Rice has authored legislation to address the needs of our education system through the development of programs to aid with college tuition, public school construction, pupil transportation, early childhood education, daycare and special education. He has put his experience as a police officer to work by sponsoring legislation to address the crime and quality of life issues that plague communities throughout New Jersey.