Essex County Executive Proposes To Name Athletic Complex After Resigning Sen. Rice

Rice has been a member of the State Senate for 35 years and previously served 18 years as chairman of the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus. He is renowned for being a strong advocate for social justice issues and has supported the construction of recreational facilities in urban areas as a way to lift blighted communities.

The state senator entered politics in 1981 when he was elected to the Newark City Council as West Ward councilman. He was re-elected three times. He also served as deputy mayor of Newark from 2002 to 2006 under then-Mayor Sharpe James. In addition, he served as a Newark Police Detective for eight years and served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, attaining the rank of Sergeant.

With a new athletic complex under construction in Newark’s West Ward, the facilities could help revitalize an area that has dealt with its own share of blight in recent years. The complex is planned to feature a football/soccer field, baseball field and softball field – all with synthetic grass surfaces – and a rubberized running track, according to Essex County officials.

The facilities will be available to the community and are aimed to become the home base for student athletic programs at Essex County Donald M. Payne, Sr. School of Technology and other county vocational schools.

Having Rice’s name showcased at the complex would be an apt tribute to the senator who has been described as a “staple” in the Newark community by the city’s current mayor, Ras Baraka. 

“He has always been there for me in my role as Mayor and I have immense respect and gratitude for him, as well as his leadership and guidance throughout the years,” Baraka said. “He is the quintessential public servant and always shows up and fights for us all when we need him.”

The senator’s contributions to New Jersey weren’t lost on Gov. Phil Murphy, calling Rice “a true maverick whose legacy of legislative successes will stand clearly on its own.”

“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,” Murphy said. “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. In doing so, he made us all better at our jobs.”

Following DiVincenzo’s announcement, his proposal will be sent to the Essex County Board of County Commissioners for review.

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published this page in News and Politics 2022-08-24 02:48:09 -0700