He is the town’s youngest mayor ever, and he saved the city from being erased off the map.
Central Falls, Rhode Island was a town racing toward extinction. The town filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and by 2012, former mayor Charles Moreau had resigned over federal fraud charges. During that time, James Diossa, the child of Colombian immigrants, was the youngest elected city councilman in the town’s history and it was just the start of his place in the town’s history.
As a councilman, Diossa saved the town’s only public library and the post office, which were facing dark futures due to lack of funds, according to ABC News. Without a post office and a zip code, Central Falls would have unceremoniously vanished from the map after mail delivery to the town would have ended. Now, Central Falls is on the mends after the youngest mayor ever elected to run the town was able to make things work. It was the people of Central Falls, with 60 percent of the town’s population being Latino, who encouraged him to run for office.
“I had to think fast on how do we not only turn the page in this bankruptcy chapter, but also keep the people excited, motivated [and] safe about the future of Central Falls,” Diossa told NBC News.
Part of how he was able to get the town moving forward was by getting people excited about living in Central Falls again. According to NBC News, Diossa created tutoring centers for the children of immigrants who don’t speak English fluently, he improved the infrastructure in the town, and even started a monthly Salsa Night during the summer months to attract more people to the town. Diossa told NBC News that he felt drawn back to Central Falls after college because it was the place that gave his parents a home after fleeing Colombia.
“I value the fact that people helped me climbed the ladder and I give back,” Diossa told NBC News. “I encourage Latinos to run for office.”