PROVIDENCE – The Senate leadership team of President Teresa Paiva Weed and Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio both won unanimous support of the Democratic caucus to control the chamber for another two years on Thursday.
While Paiva Weed won’t officially be elected President until the entire Senate convenes on New Year’s Day, the 32-0 support she won from fellow Democrats Thursday is more than enough to ensure she will wield the gavel once more in the 2013-14 session. Ruggerio, of North Providence, is the majority leader by virtue of Thursday’s vote. He is also the dean, or most senior member, of the Senate.
Addressing the Senate Democrats, Paiva Weed, whose district straddles Newport and Jamestown, said, “during the upcoming session we will be developing legislation to address the factors that put Rhode Island at the bottom of national business rankings. We will be working together with the business community, our world-class institutions of higher learning, and other partners to spur economic growth.”
Specifically, she said the Senate, “will put forth initiatives such as a re-investment in historic tax credits, helping to provide a boost to the construction industry, create jobs and revitalize communities.
Nominating Paiva Weed as the Democrats’ candidate for President, Finance Committee Chairman Daniel DaPonte of East Providence said, “listens to the concerns of every member of the chamber and works with the committee to address them. She is compassionate and responsible. She is attentive to the nuances and details. Although each senator brings differing philosophical views, she ensures that all of our concerns are heard.
The result has been balanced budgets that do not undercut Rhode Island’s competitiveness, move our state towards fiscal sustainability, make important investments, and provide the services relied upon by Rhode Islanders
Praising Paiva Weed as “the most intelligent, energetic and visionary leader in Rhode Island,” Ruggerio said, “I am honored to serve as her second-in-command.”
He told he fellow Democrats that, “by working together over the next two years, we will build upon the successes we have achieved to improve Rhode Island’s competitiveness, foster economic development and job growth, and enact fair, responsible and compassionate budgets. We will seek to further improve education, protect the environment, and improve the quality of life for all Rhode Islanders.
“I have been extremely fortunate to serve as leader of a caucus filled with talented and dedicated individuals,” he added. “We have worked together to honestly confront significant challenges and address them with bold action. It is because of the hard work and leadership of the people in this room today that we will continue to make progress to move our state forward.”
Paiva Weed returned plaudits to Ruggerio, saying she felt fortunate to have him, “as a partner in leadership for these last two years. In him we have a strong Majority Leader who keeps his door open to all of his colleagues and his mind open to all of our ideas.”
Paiva Weed and Ruggerio welcomed eight new Democrats who were elected this week to the Senate. They are Senators-elect Ryan Pearson of Cumberland and Lincoln; William Conley of Pawtucket and East Providence; Adam Satchell of West Warwick; Stephen Archambault of Smithfield, North Providence and Johnston; Catherine Cool Rumsey of Charlestown, Exeter, Hopkinton, Richmond and West Greenwich; Gayle Goldin of Providence; Frank Lombardi, Cranston, and, returning after a two-year absence, Leonidas Raptakis of Coventry, East Greenwich and West Greenwich.
The five Senate Republicans remaining after Tuesday’s election also caucused Thursday, reinstating Dennis Algiere as Minority Leader and David Bates as Whip.
House Democrats are scheduled to hold their leadership caucus later today.