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Baton Rouge lawmaker Ronnie Edwards has died

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BATON ROUGE - Newly-elected State Rep. Ronnie Edwards has died, sources confirmed to WBRZ Wednesday.

Edwards, who won the election to state government last year, had been a member of the Metro Council.

"We lost a member of our body this afternoon," House Speaker Taylor Barras announced to House members while asking for a moment of silence for Edwards, the Associated Press reported.

“Rep. Edwards will long be remembered and admired for her commitment and tireless effort to improve her community and this state.  She fought for her district with the same fortitude with which she fought a difficult two-year battle with cancer," Governor John Bel Edwards said in a statement.  "Her time in the House of Representatives was short, but it was a dream come true for her and a testament to her hard work and determination not to let anything hold her back, not even illness. Donna and I send our prayers and condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.”  

Erika Green, who replaced Edwards on the Metro Council following the election, released the following statement Wednesday night:

"Representative Ronnie Edwards was a true woman of faith, integrity, and served with compassionate leadership. District 5, the Charles R. Kelly Community Center family, my colleagues, and I have heavy hearts but are comforted that her legacy will continue on. My prayers are with her family, friends, and all she touched."

Edwards friend, Tonja Myles, told News 2:

"She wasn't a politican, she was a public servant. Ronnie embraced three things I know: Love, grace and service. She loved her family, she loved her friends. She made us all feel like she was special, or she made us feel special. She was special. She made us all feel special and she loved this community. She served it well, and she loved what she did, and she did it with grace and dignity and respect."

Edwards' illness became a campaign issue during her run for the legislature. It prevented her from signing up for the election in person and kept her from attending council meetings.

Before leaving city government, however, Edwards sought to bring awareness to pancreatic cancer. At one council meeting, kids made a $500 donation to research after selling lemonade. Her efforts made her the focus of a 2 Make a Difference report from News 2's Sylvia Weatherspoon in July 2014.

"I took it on as an advocacy mission because pancreatic cancer affects perhaps more African Americans than any other group of individuals," Edwards said at that time.

Edwards' district in the Louisiana State House of Representatives covered parts of East Baton Rouge and West Baton Rouge parishes.

Edwards was 63.


Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz


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