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James Diossa '09

UPDATED: A Bright Future for a New Mayor and his City

Alumnus, James Diossa, breathes new life into his small community

December 12, 2012: James Diossa ’09 was elected the new mayor of Central Falls, R.I. in a special election on Tuesday, December 11, 2012, making him Central Falls’ first Latino mayor. (read announcement) James took time out of his busy schedule to visit campus for Accepted Student Day on April 19, 2013.

James Diossa ’09 always possessed an interest in government, but it was not until after he enrolled in the Criminal Justice program at Becker College, participating in several diverse government courses, that he developed his strong passion for politics.

James believes “Becker was a great experience” for him because it offered small class sizes that allowed him to build strong relationships with his professors. One such professor was Dr. James Belpedio, professor of History and Government, who had an enormous influence on James. While working on a government project in one of Dr. Belpedio’s classes, involving various city and town government structures within the state of Massachusetts, James became aware of the importance of political affairs, realizing its impact on communities. Dr. Belpedio recognized James as a “very good, diligent, hard-working student who got into the idea of politics and understood it very well.”

After graduating from Becker, James returned to his hometown of Central Falls, Rhode Island and began working as a Crusade Advisor for the College Crusade of Rhode Island, an early intervention program designed to encourage low-income students to stay in school and prepare for higher education. James continues to be part of this program, advising 6th and 7th graders at Woonsocket Middle School. He is responsible for developing relationships with student “Crusaders,” guiding them in academic decisions, special development and career exploration to get them ready for college. As a former Crusader himself, James feels very strongly about both the mission and success of the College Crusade program.

Driven by his continued interest in politics and a desire to become more active in his community, James decided to take a chance and run for the office of city councilman of Central Falls, against a fierce, longtime incumbent. “What motivated me to run was the fact that my city needed new blood and better representation of its constituents at City Hall.” He personally spent countless hours knocking on doors, reaching out to every resident in his area to let them know what it was that he wanted to accomplish.  His hard work and determination paid off.  On November 3, 2009, James won, by a narrow margin, the title of Central Falls city councilman of Ward 4, becoming the youngest city council member, at just 24 years of age.

Learning first-hand about local government has been the most exciting part of James’ journey so far as city councilman.  Since becoming elected, James has served on many committees and has been instrumental in making key decisions leading to the improvement of his city: first and foremost, making sure that it is kept clean and safe for its residents.  By joining forces with both law enforcement and public works officials, such issues as stronger enforcement against speeding, higher visibility of police officers within the community and better looking streets have successfully been addressed.  He is also currently involved in a project to create a juvenile board that would offer alternative sentences to youthful offenders within the city in order to give them a second chance.  James states, “Through my education at Becker, I learned how important it is to deal with young offenders and guide them in correcting their path to a better future.”

James is well aware of the responsibilities associated with representing the citizens of Central Falls, recognizing them to be integral to his success as a leader.  His hope is to one day represent the entire State of Rhode Island as a U.S. senator.  But for now, serving as city councilman, he continues to dedicate himself to keeping his promise to serve as a voice for his constituents and to ensure that all of their needs are addressed.

By Caitlin Visscher (Becker Bridges, Fall 2010, Vol. 4, No. 3)