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R.I. Senator Cano files to run for Congress

Cano, a Pawtucket Democrat, filed a statement of candidacy to run for the First Congressional District seat that Representative David Cicilline is vacating

Rhode Island State Senator Sandra Cano, a Pawtucket DemocratJames Kegley

PROVIDENCE — Senator Sandra C. Cano on Monday announced that she is running for the First Congressional District seat that US Representative David N. Cicilline is vacating.

Cano, a Pawtucket Democrat, filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on Monday morning and issued a statement saying, “Our community needs someone who knows what it is like to face the challenges that so many of our neighbors face on a daily basis — someone with the life experience and Democratic values to fight for working families across our state.”

If elected, Cano will be the first woman to represent Rhode Island’s First Congressional District, the first Latina to represent Rhode Island in Congress, and the first Colombian immigrant in Congress.

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Cano, who was elected to the Senate in 2018, is the first Latina to chair the Senate Education Committee. She previously served on the Pawtucket City Council, Pawtucket School Committee, and Pawtucket Juvenile Hearing Board. She works as director of commerce for the City of Pawtucket, and is a former assistant vice president of community development at Navigant Credit Union.

Cano, 39, studied at the Community College of Rhode Island before earning a bachelor’s degree in management and economics at Bryant University in 2007 and a master’s degree in public administration at the University of Rhode Island in 2012.

She is engaged to General Treasurer James A. Diossa, and they have a daughter and son.

“I have worked to ensure that our children get the quality education they deserve and teachers get recognized as the pillar to their success,” Cano said. “I have stood on the front lines with advocates and legislative champions to protect the right to abortion by passing the Reproductive Privacy Act. I have fought to protect the environment by co-sponsoring the Act on Climate and working to ensure its passage. And I helped lead the successful effort for earned sick leave and fair pay for women and families. Now, I am ready to bring this energy and focus to Washington and fight for our future!”

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She said the First Congressional District needs a leader who will continue Cicilline’s “strong advocacy.”

“We need a leader who will work to protect the rights of workers, allowing them to collectively bargain for family-sustaining wages, better benefits, and safer workplaces,” Cano said. “We need a leader who will ensure health care is accessible and affordable for everyone. And, we need a leader who will fight for a national assault weapons ban and bring true gun safety to this country. I am ready to lead this fight.”

Cano’s announcement came three days after House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, a Warwick Democrat who would have been a formidable candidate, announced that he will not enter the race.

And it came one hour before Helena Buonanno Foulkes, a former CVS executive who came within 3 percentage points of defeating Governor Daniel J. McKee in last year’s Democratic primary, announced that she will not run for that seat, either.

Last week, Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos announced that she is running for the First Congressional District seat. A former Providence City Council president, she would be the first Afro-Latina and the first Democratic woman to represent Rhode Island in Congress.

In her announcement, Cano noted that she lives in the First Congressional District. By contrast, Matos lives in the Second Congressional District. Candidates for Congress are required to live in the state but not within the congressional district. US Representative Seth Magaziner had lived in the First Congressional District before running for the Second Congressional District seat and moving there last year.

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Allen Waters, a perennial candidate who lost to Cicilline last year as a Republican, has said he now plans to run for the First Congressional District seat as a Democrat.

The list of potential candidates includes presidential aide Gabe Amo, Senator Meghan E. Kallman, Senator Dawn Euer, Representative Nathan Biah, former Senator Gayle L. Goldin, Central Falls Mayor Maria Rivera, Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien, former Providence City Council member Nirva LaFortune, and former candidate for lieutenant governor Aaron Guckian.

Former state senator Cynthia Mendes, an East Providence Democrat who ran for lieutenant governor last year and had been considering a bid for the First Congressional District seat, on Friday announced on TikTok that she will not be running.


Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com. Follow him @FitzProv.