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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — State Sen. Ana Quezada officially announced her candidacy to replace Congressman David Cicilline on Wednesday, becoming the latest in a rapidly-growing field of a dozen candidates — and counting — for the special election.

“This is a unique moment for our country,” Quezada said in a news release. “With so much division, particularly at the national level, we need someone who seeks to bring people together while representing the diverse views of their constituency.”

The Providence Democrat, who also works as a code enforcement inspector for the city of Providence, had previously opened an federal campaign account before formally announcing her candidacy Wednesday.

An immigrant from the Dominican Republic, Quezada has lived in Providence since the 1990s. She has represented South Providence in the Rhode Island Senate since 2016.

“I’m independent-thinking,” Quezada told 12 News on Wednesday. “I think our country is very divided at this time. We need someone who is going to work with both sides, with Republicans and Democrats.”

Quezada said she’s excited by the number of Latinas joining the field, which also includes Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos and state Sen. Sandra Cano. Rhode Island has never sent a woman of color or a Democratic woman to Congress.

“I’m very happy to see so many Latina women running in this race,” Quezada said. “People are going to vote for the person who is going to represent them best.”

A dozen Democrats have so far either filed paperwork or announced candidacies to represent the 1st Congressional District, with the primary set for Sept. 5 and the special election on Nov. 7. (The election dates are unofficial until Cicilline officially resigns from office.)

There is still plenty of time for more candidates to get in, with the state filing deadline pegged for the end of June. No Republicans have announced plans to run yet.

Quezada is the third Democrat to jump into the race so far this week, along with House Finance Committee Chairman Marvin Abney and former state Rep. Aaron Regunberg. So far Regunberg has announced the biggest fundraising haul of the bunch — just over $150,000 — and a series of endorsements, including one Wednesday from state Rep. Leonela Felix.

Two other Democrats — Jamestown businessman Donald Carlson and former White House official Gabe Amo — are also preparing to jump into the race congressional race. Their entries would bring the number of candidates to at least 14. A full list of candidates can be found here.

“I will not be the person with the most money in this campaign,” Quezada said. “But I’m going to be the one with the most volunteers.”

Steph Machado (smachado@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter covering Providence, politics and more for 12 News. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Ted Nesi contributed to this report.

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