(Reuters) - A former Providence, Rhode Island, mayor who spent over four years in prison on felony corruption charges and was forced to resign twice said on Wednesday that he would run again.

Buddy Cianci, 73, who is seeking his seventh term as mayor of the state's capital, was convicted of separate felony assault and racketeering charges. He led the city for a total of 21 years, making him the city's longest serving mayor.

After months of speculation by local media that he would enter the race, Cianci announced his bid during his weekday radio talk show just before the 4 p.m. deadline for candidate submissions.

"There are some of you who may say that this is an eleventh hour decision but I assure you it was not made rashly or in haste. Rather it has been conceived with much soul-searching and reflection," Cianci said on his WPRO-AM radio show.

He said the proliferation of street crime and a lack of improvement in public school performance inspired him to run.

Cianci was first elected in 1975, but was forced to resign following a felony assault conviction. He pleaded no contest to attacking a man he believed to be his estranged wife's lover.

He ran for office and won again in 1990, but was forced to resign 12 years later after being convicted on federal racketeering charges. He spent over four years in prison for the corruption charges.

Cianci will join a crowded field of opponents from across the political spectrum and will take a leave from his radio show during his campaign.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Watch a report on Cianci's candidacy, as aired on WPRI-TV on Wednesday, below.

[Image via Wikipedia Commons]