CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) -- James Diossa was elected the new mayor of Central Falls in a special election on Tuesday.
Diossa, a Democrat, will finish the four-year term of former Mayor Charles Moreau, who resigned after agreeing to plead guilty to corruption charges. Another election for mayor will be held next fall.
We're told Diossa received 1,076 votes against his opponent's 650 as of 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Board of Canvassers said they still have mail ballots to go through, which will be completed on Wednesday.
Diossa, 27, was first elected to the Central Falls City Council in 2009 and works for an education nonprofit. He is the son of Colombian immigrants and campaigned on a platform of new leadership, raising a significant amount of money and receiving support from top Rhode Island Democrats.
"Tonight, we made history," Diossa told supporters. "We knocked on more doors, called more voters, and endured more cold than any other campaign in Central Falls history. This is not my victory - this is our victory. You worked hard to convince your neighbors that we can change our city. And we did it. Now the work begins to turn Central Falls around. It will not happen overnight and it will not happen unless we continue to work together – and we will."
Moran, 50, is a former city police chief who served three terms as a state representative. He was close to Moreau and told voters he would bring experience and new ideas to the mayor's office, receiving the support of former Mayor Thomas Lazieh, among others.
"He's going to have a rough job coming in because he's going to have to be inclusive, to include more people rather than be exclusive so that way we can move ahead with the entire city," Moran said. "So he's going to have to show that to the people of Central Falls. But the people have spoken... and I wish him well."
Diossa won 59 percent of the vote in the first round of voting, a nonpartisan primary held on Nov. 6. Central Falls recently emerged from bankruptcy after becoming the first Rhode Island municipality ever to file for Chapter 9 protection from its creditors.
Bill Fischer, a spokesman for the Diossa campaign, said the next election for mayor of Central Falls will be a nonpartisan primary on Sept. 13, 2013, with a general election to follow on Nov. 13.
The winner of the November 2013 mayoral election will serve a three-year term ending in 2016. Another election for mayor will be held that year, with the winner serving a four-year term ending in 2020, Fischer said. The change is being made so city mayoral elections won't fall on off-years, he said.
Congressman David Cicilline issued the following statement regarding Diossa's victory: "I'm thrilled to congratulate Mayor-Elect James Diossa on his decisive victory tonight – an event that I hope is the first big step in our work to turn the page and put Central Falls back on the right track. James is deeply committed to the City of Central Falls and his unbounded optimism for the city is clear. He has emerged as a leader in Rhode Island's Latino community, an unflinching champion of progressive values, and a strong advocate for the working men and women of Central Falls, and I look forward to working with James to best serve the people of Central Falls."
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