By Kevin Derby

Former Doral City Councilwoman Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera has jumped into the crowded race to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., in what is shaping up to be a competitive race in South Florida.

Rodriguez Aguilera, who has taught at Miami Dade College, launched her bid for the Republican nomination on Wednesday.

“South Floridians want a government that listens to them and lives up to its promises. The government should not regulate our lives; it should foster opportunities – opportunities for more and better jobs and better quality of life,” Rodriguez Aguilera said.  “Building on my record of creating economic opportunity and tackling some of the South Florida’s toughest challenges, I will put people before politics and focus on job growth, improving education, supporting small business and defending human rights. I believe in a stronger future for all South Floridians and that is why I am running for Congress, to break through Washington’s bureaucracy and fight for the people of the 27th Congressional District.”

The new candidate highlighted her many years in South Florida, including her success as Doral’s economic developer  and her record in cutting government waste. She also stressed her efforts against the Castro regime in charge of Cuba. Rodriguez Aguilera fled Cuba as a toddler and her father was held for more than a decade as a political prisoner by the Castro regime.

Rodriguez Aguilera joins the crowded field of candidates looking to win the open seat in a very competitive district.

Other Republican candidates include Miami Dade County Commissioner and former state Rep. Bruno Barreriro, educator Maria Peiro and radio host and former Miami Dade County School Board Member Raquel Regalado while other candidates continue to leave the door open to entering.

On the Democratic side, attorney Mary Barzee Flores, non-profit executive Matt Haggman, educator Michael Hepburn, state Rep. David Richardson, state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, Miami Beach City Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez and Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell are currently running while other candidates are looking at jumping in.