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PAWTUCKET â€“ After three decades as a lawmaker representing Pawtucket, Rep. Elaine Coderre says she will not seek re-election to her District 60 House seat in November.
Coderre, a Democrat, is the currently the â€śDean of the House,â€ť meaning the representative who has served the longest tenure. First elected in 1984, she currently chairs the Democratic Caucus in the House and was previously the Speaker Pro Tem for many years.
Coderre, 66, told The Times that she wants more time to travel with her husband, Ray, and spend time with their three children and five grandchildren. Florida is the first destination on their travel itinerary, she said.
â€śI have been humbled and honored to represent my constituents for 30 years,â€ť Coderre said. â€śI thank the voters of my district and the City of Pawtucket for allowing me to serve them. I am proud of my record of accomplishments at the State House, but it is time to move on. Besides serving her constituents, Coderre worked to provide a better life for segments of society that are often overlooked.
Asked what she sees as her proudest achievements over her legislative career, she said she has passed numerous bills to help working families, women and children.
Itâ€™s really been a great opportunity to help the people of our community.â€ť
A bill she sponsored in 2013 provided paid family leave for workers who have to take care of ill relatives. In 2012 she passed legislation requiring wheelchair accessible taxis for disabled individuals. The same year saw passage of a law she authored that made cyberstalking a crime under the stateâ€™s domestic violence statutes. Working no behalf of victims of domestic abuse and violence has been a focus of much of her work in the legislature.
In the current General Assembly session, she authored the Breast Cancer Act, which has been signed into law to provide mammogram patients with more information about breast density. She has also sponsored legislation to prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on pregnancy or childbirth, and has also sponsored legislation that requires care-giver reporting on elder abuse.
Coderre has received many plaudits during her legislative career. Most recently she was recognized by the Womenâ€™s Fund of Rhode Island and Womenâ€™s Policy Institute for her legislative in support of women, families and abuse victims. In 2013 she was named an â€śAngel in Adoptionâ€ť by Adoption RI and she was a Fogarty Award winner in 2008 for her efforts to improve the lives of Rhode Islandâ€™s disabled citizens.
Rep. Coderre is a retired Executive Director of the Westminster Senior Center. She has served as a member of the Commission on Aid to Families with Dependent Children Standards; Commission on Department of Children, Youth and Families; the Rhode Island Council on Alcoholism; the Association of Senior Center Directors, and the Childrenâ€™s Code Commission.
Coderreâ€™s decision not to seek re-election follows closely on Rep. William San Bentoâ€™s announcement that he will leave the legislature after this term. The departure of the two Pawtucket representatives means that more than a half century of seniority and institutional memory will be leaving the House chamber from Pawtucket after this session.
Follow Jim Baron on Twitter @Jim_Baron