PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — One of Rhode Island’s longest-serving state lawmakers has been stripped of a title she’s held for more than a decade.

State Rep. Charlene Lima, D-Cranston, is no longer deputy speaker after R.I. House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi selected state Rep. Ray Hull for the role.

Lima said Shekarchi’s decision didn’t come as a surprise, telling 12 News she believes Shekarchi removed her from the position because she was behaving too independently.

“You’ve got to have an independent voice in there somewhere,” Lima said. “You can’t go up there and be a ‘sheeple,’ and say, ‘OK, I’m going to do what you say and follow the leader’ … that’s what they don’t want to understand.”

Lima asserted that over the last two years she hasn’t felt included in her party’s decision-making and claimed there were no efforts made to compromise.

“When you’re part of a leadership team, you’re supposed to be a team,” Lima said.

When asked whether she viewed the leadership change as a demotion, Lima said no.

“If you’re not on the team and you don’t have a voice, what good is a title and an office?” she said. “It means nothing. You have to have a voice … now I can independently use my voice.”

In a statement, Shekarchi said Hull “has the respect and admiration of the entire membership.”

“Hull is very reflective of my leadership style,” Shekarchi said. “We are both collaborative, consensus-building and moderate Democrats.”

State Rep. Brandon Potter, who has butted heads with Lima in the past, believes the leadership change won’t make a difference when it comes to their legislative priorities.

“As far as I’m concerned, the campaign season is over,” said Potter, D-Cranston. “It’s really time to get to work for the people of Rhode Island.”

Hull was first elected in 2010 and is the first Black lawmaker to serve as deputy speaker.