History made in Central Falls
THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL/BOB THAYER
James A. Diossa, right, celebrates his win in Tuesday’s Central Falls mayoral election with a hug from campaign worker Bernardo Chamorro.
For Diossa, chance to open new door
On his first visit to mayor’s office, he talks about the need for cooperation and change in Central Falls
A decisive win for Diossa, city’s first Hispanic mayor
Young city councilman captured 62% of the vote to defeat former Police Chief Joseph P. Moran III and finish term of ex-Mayor Charles D. Moreau
By W. ZACHARY MALINOWSKI JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
December 11, 2012
CENTRAL FALLS — James A. Diossa, the young Latino City councilman, cruised to a decisive win in Tuesday’s special mayoral race to replace former Mayor Charles D. Moreau, who resigned and has pleaded guilty to a federal corruption charge.
Results from the eight polling places had Diossa with 1,076 votes, or 62 percent, compared with 650 votes, or 38 percent, for Joseph P. Mo-ran III, the former police chief.
Diossa, 27, who graduated from Central Falls High School less than 10 years ago, becomes the first Hispanic chief executive in the state’s smallest city, which recently emerged from federal bankruptcy.
He also is the second Latino mayor in Rhode Island. Providence Mayor Angel Taveras is the first, and he attended Tuesday night’s victory celebration at La Casona, a Colombian restaurant on Broad Street, across the street from Diossa headquarters.
State General Treasurer Gina Raimondo also dropped by and offered her support.
A jubilant Diossa appeared before about 300 of his supporters who packed the main floor and balcony of the restaurant that opened in its new building last weekend. Diossa is friendly with the restaurant owners — the Tabares family — and he likes to showcase the restaurant as an example of what the state’s poorest city could become in the future.
“We did it,” said Diossa, who scored the sole goal for the Central Falls High School State championship soccer team in 2003. “The one thing I learned on the soccer field is that there is no “I” in team. Tonight we made history!”
Diossa first made his remarks in English and immediately repeated them in Spanish.
About a mile down Broad Street at the Madeira Club, Moran was gracious in defeat.
“He’s got a lot of work ahead of him,” he said. “I wish him well.”
Moran would not rule out running against Diossa next fall. Diossa will complete the final year of Moreau’s four-year term on Dec. 31, 2013. Another mayoral primary will be held in September and a mayoral election in November. The winner will serve a three-year term.
As expected, the turnout was lower that that of the five-way primary, which drew nearly 4,000 voters. That race also featured the presidential, senate and congressional races, as well as state bond and City Charter review questions.
At 12:20 p.m., 111 had voted at Central Falls High School, the busiest of the city’s eight polling places in last month’s primary. That was about half the number that had voted at that time a month ago.
Outside the polls, about a half-dozen Moran supporters with green and white campaign signs greeted voters. One of them was Alberto A. Cardona, a city lawyer who served as a Municipal Court judge for Moreau, the ex-mayor.
“It’s slow in the morning, but it should be picking up,” said Gonzalo Cuervo, deputy chief of staff for Taveras, the Providence mayor. Cuervo has close ties to the city dating to the ’60s, when his father moved to Central Falls from Colombia. He helped Diossa get elected to the City Council in 2009.
But the Diossa camp took nothing for granted. During the course of the day, about 150 volunteers worked the streets and phones to make sure that supporters got out to vote. Cuervo was busy making sure that the volunteers were out providing rides to voters.
Cuervo’s prediction was spot on. At 4 p.m., about 775 votes had been cast, but over the next four hours that figure more than doubled, to 1,726 votes. That does not include more than 400 mail ballots that the state Board of Elections is expected to count on Wednesday.
The Diossa camp expects most of those ballots to favor the newly elected mayor.
Anna Cano-Morales, chairman of the Central Falls School Board and a Diossa supporter, said that she drove an elderly Dominican couple, both in their 80s, from Rand Place, a senior citizen center, to vote for Diossa at the Captain Hunt Elementary School.
She said that the couple became naturalized citizens last year and were voting for the first time as Americans in a mayoral election.
In the morning, U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline, who endorsed Diossa a few weeks ago, stopped by the candidate’s headquarters on Broad Street and placed several calls to get registered voters to the polls. He was followed by Rep. Grace Díaz, D-Providence, and Agostinho Silva, D-Central Falls.
Diossa will be sworn in as mayor next month. He is expected to name campaign manager Joshua Giraldo as his chief of staff. And, over the next few days, he will be involved in selecting a new police chief and fire chief.
The City also will have to hold another election in January to replace Diossa, who represented Ward 4 on the council.
THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL/BOB THAYER
Joseph P. Moran gets a condolence kiss from a campaign worker at the Madeira Club Tuesday after learning he's losing the mayoral race to James A. Diossa.