Ronald C. Rice
West Ward Councilman
About Council Member
Ronald C. Rice
Contact: (973) 733-6427
Council Member Ronald Rice is from a family of Newarkers who have dedicated their lives to public service and political reform. Rice credits his beginnings in Newark politics to his father, State Senator Ronald L. Rice (D-28th), who engaged him in his campaigns when he was just 10 years old. The exposure Rice gained led him into the field of law and ultimately inspired him to begin his own political career. Sworn into office in July 2006, Rice became a second-generation West Ward council member.
Ron is a third generation Newark resident and son of the West Ward having lived his early formative years in the ward’s Vailsburg section and at the Georgia King Village housing complex in the ward’s Fairmount section. He attended Alexander Street School and was enrolled in the Newark School District’s Gifted and Talented Program at Louise A. Spencer School where he was a consistent honor role student.
In 1986, Ron graduated from the Pingry School, consistently ranked in the top 40 of the best secondary schools in the nation and began his matriculation at the American University in Washington, DC where he received his Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in Political Science and Public Administration in 1990. While at American, Ron interned on Capitol Hill and served on the Executive Board of the AU College Democrats and the AU Black Student Alliance. In 1988, Ron was initiated into the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and was the campus director of the Students for Jesse Jackson for President ’88 effort. Ron was part of that campaign’s upset victory in the Virginia caucuses in 1988.
In 1991, Ron began his matriculation at the Seton Hall University, School of Law in Newark, NJ and received his Juris Doctorate (JD) degree in 1995. In 1993, he served as the assistant Essex County Coordinator for the Re-Election effort for Gov. Jim Florio ’93 and became the first African-American President of the Essex County Young Democrats.
Ron has worked in a variety of public policy arenas for over seventeen years having served as a Law Clerk in the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, Appellate Division and as a Law Clerk to the Hon. Jared D. Honigfeld, J.S.C. in the Essex County Vicinage. In 1999, as a Policy Analyst for the Deputy Commissioner at the New Jersey Department of Education, Ron wrote the regulations for implementing the Abbott decision that enabled the Newark school district to receive millions in additional funding for universal pre-school and classroom teaching. He also directed the comprehensive review of all NJDOE regulations for two years. Ron has also served as a spokesman with the state Department of Education.
Ron first ran for city council in Newark in 2002 with Mayoral candidate Cory A. Booker in a losing effort documented in the Academy Award winning documentary “Street Fight.” In 2006, as a member of the Booker Team for Newark, Ron won his race for West Ward Councilman and was sworn into office with newly elected Mayor Cory A. Booker on July 1, 2006.
Since being elected to the city council, Ron has led the way in city government reform, economic development, and community empowerment initiatives. Ron has sponsored the most far reaching ethics reform legislation in New Jersey state history that sought to create an Inspector General for the city, reform “pay to play” political contribution rules, and create an open and transparent appointments process for city commission and boards. Ron was the lead advocate for the West Ward Abandoned Properties Initiative, a major neighborhood redevelopment project in the Fairmount District that will build new workforce housing, use local, minority contractors and developers that hire Newark residents, and empowers local residents to have input in the process. Ron has also founded the West Ward Collective, Inc. a new non-profit that will create a ward wide infrastructure to create recreational, educational, and community improvement programs to benefit all ward residents. Ron serves as Chairman of the City Council’s Ad-Hoc Committees on Procurement and Purchasing, Violence, and Newark Police Department Racial Disciplinary Disparity Investigation. He also serves on the Joint Meeting of Essex and Union Counties.
Ron is very active in his community and has been honored by many organizations and groups such as Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce of Essex County, La Movida, K.I.P.P., B.A.L.L.O.T. PAC, Arts and West Side High Schools, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and 13th Avenue Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, Mt. Vernon Elementary and Vailsburg Middle Schools, to name a few. Ron has been interviewed and/or appeared on My9 news, Al Jazeera, TV One with Judge Mathis, CNN, FoxNews, and MSNBC. Ron has also appeared in Ebony magazine, PolitickerNJ.com, BlueJersey.com, the New York Times, and the Star Ledger. Most recently, Ron was quoted in the new book by television commentator Gwen Ifill entitled “Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.”
As an advocate for urban city governance innovation, Ron has spoken on urban public policy and political reform in Newark to such diverse groups as Leadership New Jersey, Common Cause, the NJ Historical Society, Leadership Newark and various schools and other community organizations. In 2001, he was named one of New Jersey’s 50 Best Rising Stars by www.politicsnj.com.