State Rep. Ralph Johnson, a Greensboro Democrat, died Tuesday after suffering a stroke.
Johnson was first elected to the House in 2014, filling the seat left open when Alma Adams ran for Congress.
Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue announced Johnson’s death in a news release Wednesday morning.
“Rep. Johnson was a respected member of the House, working tirelessly on behalf of school employees and advocating for a true democratic process,” Blue said. “He will be sorely missed.”
Adams said she’s “reeling from loss” after hearing the news about Johnson. “He loved his community and fought for them every step of the way, which is why I was proud to see him take the reins to serve North Carolina’s 58th House District,” she said in a news release. “Ralph was truly a servant leader who stayed involved and committed to the least of these.”
Johnson’s staff announced that he’d had a “mild stroke” in late February. He canceled all public appearances, but his spokeswoman said he was “alert, conscious, and eager to get back to work.”
The spokeswoman, Emily Patterson, highlighted Johnson’s record in the House. “In his first session, he filed more bills than any House Democrat,” she said. “He championed banning the box, raising the minimum wage and requiring body cameras for police officers.”
At the time of his stroke, Patterson said Johnson was “looking forward to his upcoming pieces of legislation that will address the need for expanding Medicaid and protecting domestic violence victims throughout North Carolina.”
Johnson was sidelined from his primary campaign and was defeated in Tuesday’s election by fellow Democrat Amos Quick, a Guilford County school board member.
No Republicans filed to run for the seat, meaning Quick has effectively been elected. The Guilford County Democratic Party is responsible for nominating someone to finish out Johnson’s term; it’s unclear if they’ll nominate Quick.
Greensboro City Councilman Jamal Fox noted on Twitter that Johnson’s death came within days of the deaths of former state Sen. Earline Parmon of Winston-Salem and Darryl Hunt, who’d been wrongfully convicted of murder and advocated against the death penalty after his release from prison.
“We have lost three trailblazers and public servants,” Fox wrote.