Representative Donald Lally (D-Narragansett), the second-longest serving member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, announced his resignation on Tuesday. A short time later, Susan Cicilline Buonanno, the sister of US Representative David Cicilline, unveiled her candidacy for the seat being vacated by Lally.
The special election to replace Lally has been scheduled for June 9 by Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea.
In a letter to House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, Lally said he was moved to resign by the recent death of his parents, and a desire to spend more time with his family, including his two children and his law practice:
"Recently, I lost both of my parents and it led me to reflect upon how important family truly is. Few people realize what a commitment it is to serve in the General Assembly," Lally wrote. "My wife, Sandi, has supported me in my endeavor to represent the constituents of District 33 and we have done the best we could to balance the commitment of this office with the responsibilities of our family. As Chairman of Judiciary, I gave my son’s Little League schedule to my secretary so she could schedule around it for committee meetings.
"I have truly loved being a part of the legislative process, whether it was in teaching new members how to navigate the system; reaching across the aisle to work with the Republican members; or working within my own party. They say that good legislation is like making good sausage… but you do not want to see how it is made. I have always enjoyed rolling up my sleeves and getting involved in making the “sausage”. Maybe that is why I stayed so long."
Lally, who won election in 1989, is second in House seniority only to Representative Brian Patrick Kennedy. Lally chaired House Judiciary from 2006 to 2010.
In a statement, Cicilline Buonanno thanked Lally for his service.
“Public service has always been very important to me, that’s why I have always found a way to be involved in my community, and with the endorsement of the voters from our District I hope to continue the progress made by Representative Lally," she said. "I am excited to share my vision for our district and our state with my neighbors and to be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
David Cicilline, who won the congressional seat formerly held by Patrick Kennedy, served in the RI House before winning election as mayor of Providence in 2002.
Cicilline Buonanno said she served three terms on the Narragansett School Committee and is serving her fourth term on the Narragansett Town Council. She is the principal at Gladstone Elementary School in Cranston.
This post has been updated.