Rhode Island state Sen. Donna Nesselbush (D-Pawtucket), who was first elected in 2010, has joined the growing number of senators who are not seeking re-election.

“It would not surprise me if we still see some others,” Nesselbush told The Public’s Radio in an interview.

Nesselbush said she began hearing an inner voice over recent months telling her it was time to leave the legislature, and that she wants to focus her time on other pursuits, including two books she’s working on, and being with her partner, Kelly Carse.

She quoted a Robert Frost poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, in announcing her decision on Twitter: “I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.”

In deciding not to seek re-election, Nesselbush joins Judiciary Chairwoman Erin Lynch Prata of Warwick, Sen. James Sheehan of North Kingstown, and Sen. Adam Satchell of West Warwick, all Democrats.

The Rhode Island Political Cooperative, a progressive group, last year announced plans to target the 38-member Senate, where Republicans hold just five seats.

The growing number of departures adds an element of uncertainty to the future of the chamber.

A partner in the law firm of Marasco and Nesselbush, and the chief municipal judge in Pawtucket, Nesselbush called serving in the Senate a rewarding experience. At the same time, she said, the divisiveness of politics can be painful and frustrating.

Nesselbush took over the Senate seat formerly held by John F. McBurney III when she first won election in 2010.

She said she has heard rumors about who may run to succeed her, but does not know of actual candidates.

Meghan Kallman, who has served two terms representing Ward 5 in Pawtucket, was the first to declare as a candidate for the seat being vacated by Nesselbush.

In a statement, Kallman said "she has championed small business empowerment, economic justice, and affordable housing. Kallman is co-founder of Crash Pawtucket, an organization that showcases small businesses in partnership with community groups."

“It has been my honor to serve the residents of Pawtucket for the past four years,” Kallman said. “And I am committed to bringing the concerns of the people of Pawtucket and North Providence to the State House. It’s going to take all of us, working together, to build a strong and resilient Rhode Island. COVID-19 has brought challenges, but it has also shown our strength as a community. We must move forward together. We can’t leave working people behind or ignore the urgent need for living wages, safe housing, clean energy and healthcare.”

As far as the two books she’s working on, Nesselbush said one is a guide to the legal system for immigrants and the other is an account of how Rhode Island, considered the most Roman Catholic state in the nation, passed same-sex marriage into law in 2013.

In recent years, Nesselbush, with the outspoken Sen. Sam Bell (D-Providence), has emerged as a more frequent critic of Senate leadership.

She said disputes with leadership were not a factor in her decision against seeking re-election. Rather, she said, more debate is a vital part of democracy,

Ian Donnis can be reached at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org