FILE- In this March 19, 2013, file photo, photo Rhode Island Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed smiles while at the rostrum in the Senate Chamber at the Statehouse in Providence, R.I. Paiva Weed is stepping down from the Senate for a job leading a hospital industry group, she announced on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — State Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed is stepping down from the Senate for a job leading a hospital industry group, she announced on Wednesday.
Paiva Weed, a Democrat from Newport, said she will become president of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island, which represents 10 of the state’s hospitals. She was tearful as she announced she would wind down her Senate duties in the coming weeks. She said there will be a caucus Thursday to select her successor.
She said she had mixed feelings about leaving but learned of the job opportunity several weeks ago. She hailed her fellow senators as dedicated public servants and said she was confident they would carry on causes she cares about.
“I love the Senate as an institution and as my extended family,” she said. “Change is never easy. I live around the corner from my parents. I’ve never left Newport. But I feel very comfortable that this is the right decision for me and for the Senate and for the state of Rhode Island.”
Paiva Weed, 57, was first elected in 1992. She became Rhode Island’s first female Senate president in 2009, chosen for the post by fellow senators in the heavily Democratic chamber. On Wednesday, she thanked colleagues for standing by her when she lost her husband, Mark Weed, to cancer later that year.
Shortly before her public announcement, she choked up as she adjourned the day’s Senate session for the last time and received a prolonged standing ovation. She plans to resign as president Thursday, though she will stay on as a senator for an undetermined number of days. State ethics rules prohibit her from lobbying the state for a year after she resigns, so she said she might spend the next year advocating for the hospital association at the federal level.
Sen. Elizabeth Crowley, a Central Falls Democrat who represents one of the state’s poorest districts, said Paiva Weed will be “sorely missed” and credited her for championing social services policy and education, including public pre-kindergarten programs.
“She’s honest as the day is long and believes in helping the people in the state who have the lowest voice in state government,” Crowley said.
Newport Mayor Harry Winthrop praised Paiva Weed’s contributions to his city and the state as well as her integrity.
“Elected officials in this state often make headlines for wrongdoing,” he said Wednesday. “In 25 years, she has been a shining example of what a true public servant is. She’s a person of high ethical standards and unquestionable moral character, which is sorely going to be missed when she leaves public service.”
Paiva Weed got her start at the State House early in life. She worked there as a page during college and later graduated from Catholic University’s law school in Washington.
Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio, a North Providence Democrat, said he plans to run for Senate president. Ruggerio also said he supports Warwick Democratic Sen. Michael McCaffrey as his successor for majority leader.
Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin, a Providence Democrat considered another possible contender to be Senate president, said she was ruling it out because of her day job responsibilities as a city employee.
This story has been corrected to show the mayor said “wrongdoing,” not “wronging.”
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