PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Narragansett tribal elder has joined the increasingly packed race to replace Congressman David Cicilline, who is stepping down on June 1.

Bella Machado Noka announced Thursday she is joining more than a dozen Democratic candidates vying for the 1st District Congressional seat.

Noka grew up in Providence, graduating from Hope High School before attending College Unbound. She’s served as a Narragansett tribal member and tribal intergenerational director.

Noka said Rhode Island’s senior population is facing housing and healthcare challenges, issues she plans to champion if elected.

“Our seniors worry about their economic situation, their health, and threats to Social Security,” Noka said in a statement. “I am concerned about our elders and will help them fight for their rights.”

Noka is a long-time civic activist and tribal elder of the Narragansett Aboriginal Nation. She lives in South County with her husband and three children.

In addition to Noka, 15 Democrats already have announced their candidacy for the seat, with at least six people exploring a potential run. No Republican candidates so far have announced.

The primary election is scheduled for Sept. 5, with a general election on Nov. 7.