NEW JERSEY (PIX11) — Long time New Jersey State Sen. Ron Rice announced plans to retire, Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday.

Rice spent years as a police officer before joining politics and eventually serving as a deputy mayor in Newark. He also served in the Marines.

Sen. Rice was elected to the state Senate in 1986. He served as chair of the NJ Legislative Black Caucus from 2003 to 2021.

“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,” Murphy said. “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.”