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Former Central Falls Mayor James Diossa joins Brown University

Supporters say becoming a senior adviser at The Policy Lab does not take him out of the running for lieutenant governor of Rhode Island

Former Central Falls Mayor James A. DiossaJonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

PROVIDENCE — Former Central Falls Mayor James A. Diossa began working this week as senior adviser at Brown University’s Policy Lab, but supporters say the move does not take him out of the running for lieutenant governor.

Diossa had been considered one of the main contenders to succeed Lieutenant Governor Daniel J. McKee once he replaces Governor Gina M. Raimondo, who has been nominated by President Joe Biden to be the Secretary of Commerce. McKee expects to be able to name his own successor.

Diossa, 35, who just concluded eight years as mayor of Central Falls, began working on Monday for The Policy Lab, and the full-time position has a six-month term, Brown spokesman Brian Clark said.

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“As senior adviser, I will work closely with The Policy Lab Director, David Yokum, and senior staff to provide strategic advice on The Policy Lab’s engagement with state and local government partners at a high level,” Diossa said in a statement.

“I will provide general thought partnership on prospective projects, in particular, assessing and revising a proposal for a statewide municipal student internship program to support Rhode Island’s recovery from COVID-19 and undertaking exploratory conversations with an array of prospective partners to refine this proposal and identify sources of philanthropic support,” he said.

Supporters said the new job would not eliminate Diossa from contention for the lieutenant governor’s post.

“It’s been clear that if I am called to serve at a higher capacity, it would be an honor,” Diossa said. “And I would like to continue making a contribution to Rhode Island.”

Mike Trainor, a spokesman for the McKee transition team, declined to comment.

Launched in 2019, The Policy Lab “brings together experts from government, universities, and community organizations to collaborate on research tailored to inform decisions about how to improve policies and programs across the state,” according to the university website.

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The Policy Lab has offices at the Wexford Innovation Center at 225 Dyer St., in Providence. Clark declined to say how much Diossa is being paid.

Earlier this week, Woonsocket Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt removed her name from contention for the lieutenant governor’s position.

“Though I feel incredibly honored to have been thought of for the lieutenant governor position, I do not feel this is the right time for me to consider anything but devoting my efforts to being Mayor of Woonsocket, the city that I love,” Baldelli-Hunt said in a statement.

McKee’s transition office is asking applicants for the lieutenant governor’s position to submit a letter of interest online at www.mckeetransition.com/#apply by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2. All submissions will be reviewed and some applicants will be interviewed in early February.

“Selecting the next lieutenant governor provides an opportunity to reimagine Rhode Island’s governance model and demonstrate how the lieutenant governor’s office can be leveraged to support the state’s pandemic response and economic recovery,” McKee said in a statement. “Our team looks forward to engaging in the selection process and identifying a partner to work closely with our administration starting on day one.”



Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @FitzProv.