Under the Dome

Rep. Deborah Ross officially leaves office Saturday

Rep. Deborah Ross will officially leave the state House as of Saturday. That’s the word from House Speaker Thom Tillis, who made the announcement from the floor on Wednesday afternoon, followed by a round of applause.

The six-term Raleigh Democrat announced earlier this year she would be leaving to take a job as general counsel at Triangle Transit. But it wasn’t clear when she would depart.

Now that Wake County Democrats have chosen her successor, former Rep. Grier Martin, the transition can follow. Ross and Martin were double-bunked in redistricting, and Martin bowed out.

Update: Ross' final vote was cast Wednesday supporting the deal to extend the Dorothea Dix negotiations. Several House members, Republican and Democrat, rose to send her off with praise.

House Majority Leader Edgar Starnes recalled the first time he met her was when she showed up at his office to talk about his bill strengthening penalties for the death of unborn children.

"This lady walked in and said, 'I'm Deborah Ross and I'm from the ACLU,' and I thought, 'Oh lord.' I had always heard of the ACLU. I never realized the ACLU wore a skirt and had a pretty face."

Starnes said she worked with him to salvage a bill that wouldn't have cleared the Senate. "We are friends but we don't agree on very many issues," he said.

Ross offered some advice for freshmen and sophomore legislators by noting that power has changed hands several times in the House since she's been around, and compromise is important.

"This institution is only good when we work together and we make this institution a better place, and we respect each other, because power is going to shift and people are going to leave," Ross said.

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