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Former Central Falls Mayor Diossa will run for R.I. state treasurer

Diossa, a Democrat who served as mayor from 2013 to 2020, enters the race to replace Seth Magaziner, who is running for governor.

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

PROVIDENCE — Former Central Falls Mayor James A. Diossa on Monday announced he is running for state treasurer, becoming the first major candidate to jump into the race to replace Seth Magaziner, who is term limited and running for governor.

Diossa, 36, a Democrat, served as mayor of Central Falls from 2013 to 2020, becoming the youngest mayor in the state’s history and the city’s first Latino mayor. He now lives in Pawtucket with his fiancee, state Senator Sandra Cano, and their 2-year-old daughter, and he works as senior adviser at Brown University’s Policy Lab.

“Next year, I will be a candidate for general treasurer,” Diossa said in a written announcement. “I believe the government needs to serve the people — not the other way around. As general treasurer, I will continue working toward positive change for my state through hard work and honesty, because that’s the kind of leader Rhode Islanders deserve.”

Diossa is among a group of potential Democratic candidates who have been weighing a run for the treasurer’s seat, including state Senate Finance Chairman Ryan W. Pearson, Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor, state Representative Scott A. Slater, and Nicholas A. Autiello II, who was a special adviser to former governor Gina M. Raimondo.


Republicans, meanwhile, have a potential candidate in former Cranston Mayor Allan W. Fung, who lost the last two gubernatorial races to Raimondo.

Diossa had been considered one of the main contenders to succeed then-lieutenant governor Daniel J. McKee once McKee became governor, but McKee chose then-Providence City Council President Sabina Matos for the job.

Diossa raised $19,650 in the third quarter of this year, bringing his campaign account to $41,425, according to the state Board of Elections.

Before becoming mayor, Diossa served on the Central Falls City Council. He graduated from Becker College, where he played soccer while earning a degree in criminal justice.


“I’m running for treasurer to move Rhode Island forward and not let it slip back into the old way of doing things,” Diossa said. “It doesn’t matter if you live in Warren, Warwick, Westerly, or Woonsocket. I have a record of getting stuff done and making progress.”

He noted that Central Falls is known for filing for bankruptcy in 2011, before he became mayor.

“After my election, I served two terms and never took my eye off the ball,” Diossa said. “We worked our way back into solvency, and now, Central Falls is back in the black. I want to bring that same common sense, decency, and responsibility to the whole state. I’m from Rhode Island, and I will always be for Rhode Island.”

Diossa said supporters encouraged him to run for treasurer. “Even though I won’t be kicking off my campaign until next year, I always want to be honest with Rhode Islanders,” he said. “That’s why I am not being coy and instead announcing that I have made this decision.”

On Sunday, a group of federal, state, and local officials gathered to see Diossa’s official mayoral portrait unveiled in Central Falls City Hall.

Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at Follow him @FitzProv.