PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Rhode Island Senate on Thursday chose Dominick Ruggerio as a successor to Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, who is stepping down to work for a hospital industry group.

The Senate unanimously elected Ruggerio, a North Providence Democrat and the chamber’s majority leader, to replace Paiva Weed, a Newport Democrat who was the first woman to lead the chamber. She is leaving to become president of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island.

Ruggerio, a self-described moderate, told reporters Thursday that his managerial style has been as a facilitator and he is less of a “policy person” than Paiva Weed, who became known for her devotion to protecting social services and education. Ruggerio praised Paiva Weed as irreplaceable, but said he aimed to continue her inclusive approach to governing.

Paiva Weed formally resigned her leadership role Thursday, but will remain a senator for a short time. Her new job starts May 1. An election will be held in her district later this year to fill her open Senate seat.

Ruggerio won bipartisan support Thursday from the 38-member body, which has 33 Democrats and five Republicans.

He was accompanied by his young granddaughter as he was sworn in.

The vote happened just minutes after a caucus meeting where Democrats endorsed Ruggerio as their pick for Senate president. One Democrat was absent from both the caucus and floor vote.

The Democrats also chose Warwick Sen. Michael McCaffrey to replace Ruggerio as the next majority leader. McCaffrey has been chairman of the Senate’s judiciary committee.

Ruggerio was first elected to the House in 1980 and to the Senate in 1984, representing parts of Providence’s North End and the town of North Providence, where he lives. His first political job was as an aide to a Democratic lieutenant governor in the late 1970s.

In contrast to Paiva Weed, who has been praised for her scandal-free tenure since taking office in 1993, Ruggerio has run into some legal troubles as a senator.

His 1990 arrest for allegedly stealing condoms from a CVS store has lingered as a punchline for local and national talk show hosts, though the charges were dropped. He was charged in 2012 with drunken driving, but the charge was also dropped when Ruggerio admitted refusing an alcohol test and agreed to perform community service. His license was temporarily suspended.

“Everyone makes mistakes in life,” he said Thursday. “I want to move forward. I want to move the Senate forward.”

He said the “tremendous time commitment” required to lead the Senate is making him consider retiring soon from his longtime job as an administrator for the New England Laborers Labor Management Cooperation Trust, a group representing construction contractors and union officials.

Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin, a Providence Democrat, described Ruggerio as “a little more moderate than Sen. Paiva Weed” but said she doesn’t think the changeover signals a policy shift. Goodwin said she expects Ruggerio to carry on Paiva Weed’s “open-door policy” of listening to colleagues and the public.