Rhoda Perry bowing out of the RI Senate after 22 years

Jul 2, 2012

State Senator Rhoda Perry,  a liberal stalwart from Providence, has decided against seeking re-election after more than two decades in the chamber.

Three Democrats have filed to run for the District 3 seat held by Perry: education reformer Maryellen Butke, executive director of the Rhode Island Campaign for Achievement Now; Gayle C. Goldin; and Jessica Holden Sherwood.

Perry released the following statement this morning:

Perry is one of the state’s leaders in the areas of civil rights, civil liberties, health care and assistance to the most vulnerable Rhode Islanders. She serves as Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

Senator Perry said, “It has been an honor and a pleasure to represent the residents of the East Side during the last two decades, but it is time for me to step aside and give new leaders the opportunity to emerge.  Together with my colleagues, and so many committed Rhode Islanders, I am proud of all we have been able to accomplish.  As a private citizen, I will continue to fight for the progressive causes in which I believe.”

Among Senator Perry’s major legislative accomplishments are enacting needed protections for our state’s nursing home residents, adopting mental health parity, gaining funeral rights for domestic partners, leading the successful battle for medical marijuana, increasing penalties for sex trafficking, putting in place the first anti-racial profiling law in the Northeast, gaining significant adoption reforms and helping to realize separation of powers.  Perry was also active in advancing animal rights legislation.

In the recently concluded legislative session Senator Perry won adoption of her Good Samaritan Overdose Prevention Act, which exempts from liability any person who administers an opioid antagonist to another person to prevent a drug overdose. Using opioid drugs commonly prescribed as painkillers for non-medical reasons has reached an epidemic level in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and 15,000 people die annually from overdoses. This new law, championed and sponsored by Senator Perry, has the potential to save many lives.

Senator Perry is a two time ACLU Civil Libertarian of the Year. Some of her other honors include; Common Cause Public Service Award; Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute Angels in Adoption Award;  Senior Agenda Coalition Long Term Care Leadership Award; YWCA Isabelle Ahearn O’Neill Award;  Women’s Policy Institute’s Gender Equality Award; and the Providence Preservation Society Public Policy Award.

Senator Perry filed a declaration of candidacy but will not gather or file petition signatures, and as a result will not appear on the ballot.

UPDATE: Congressman David Cicilline, a former state rep, offers these words about Perry via a news release:

“Few members of the General Assembly have served their constituents with as much commitment as Senator Rhoda Perry.  Whether she was working to strengthen gun safety, extend affordable health care services, or enhance protections for seniors, Senator Perry has always fought hard for the men and women she serves.  I know that her strong voice will be missed at the State House, but I wish her the best as she begins a new chapter in her life.”