By Jonathan Bissonnette
Biden invites CF mayor to celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month
CENTRAL FALLS - Mayor James Diossa said he was honored and excited to be traveling to Washington, D.C., as he was invited by Vice President Joe Biden to a reception Tuesday night celebration Hispanic Heritage Month, an event in which he hoped to tell the story of Central Falls' comeback while also gaining valuable information from fellow leaders.
Diossa said that as Central Falls' first Latino mayor, receiving an invitation from the Vice President's office to commence the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month was an honor.
"I think its a very good event. I believe there will be other leaders from around the country at this event, it's a good place to network and build relationships and tell people about Central Falls and its diversity," Diossa said in an interview with The Times Monday.
Diossa said it was very special to him to be recognized as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.
"I think when my family came over from Colombia, the reason why they took the risk is they knew the United States would provide a strong function for their kids," the mayor said. "Central Falls gave us that opportunity. it shows that hard work pays off and that Central Falls is a good place to raise a family, and the opportunities are endless."
As for whether he view the invitation as validation of the work the city has undertaken to rehabilitate itself over the years, Diossa said he thought, "it's a little bit of everything."
"I think Central Falls being recognized around the country... being a Latino Mayor, I think its a mix of both," he said.
The mayor said is was "truly, truly important" for him to share his personal story and the story of Central Falls' comeback.
"Central Falls and all its problems and the bankruptcy are a microcosm of what communities all over the country are going through," Diossa said. "The fact that we're able to bounce back and we're able to give a learning opportunity provides perspective on how to solve their problems."
"I think Central Falls is unique in that it's a very small city, but look at Detroit or Vallejo, Calif., we've had the same issues," the mayor continued. "I can provide information for people to learn and inquire about. Most importantly, it's to tell the people about the comeback that (Central Falls) has made and to be a model for other communities."
Diossa said he was also hopeful to communicate with other leaders from around the country during the reception, and hopefully share ideas on economic development, education, and culture.
"Pretty much how their leadership has impacted the communities all in the realm of me wanting to learn more and hopefully bring it back an adopt it to make Central Falls better," he explained.
"I recognize i'm still very young and I have a lot to learn. I take every opportunity very seriously," Diossa continued. "The residents deserve the best, and thats what I want to do. I take this very serious and hope that through networking, I'm able to bring resources back to Central Falls."
Originally published in the 9/16 edition of the Pawtucket Times.