Prior to running for the city council seat, she spent several years advocating on school funding issues and health issues. She was elected in 1996 to the now-defunct New York City Board of Education. She has been a member of the Staten Island Mental Health Society and the American Cancer Society - Women's Breast Partnership. She established the Staten Island Black Women's Health Initiative.
In the September 2009 Democratic primary, Rose defeated incumbent Kenneth Mitchell by 16 percentage points. She defeated Mitchell (Conservative Party of New York) and Timothy Kuhn (Republican Party) by a wide margin in the November 2009 general election. She easily was re-elected in 2013. Rose currently serves as the chairperson of the New York City Council Committee on Civil Rights.