City Councilman James Diossa, the 27-year-old who won an overwhelmingly victory in the Nov. 6 mayoral primary, is refusing to debate the opponent he faces in the Dec. 11 runoff election, former Central Falls Police Chief Joseph Moran.
Diossa and Moran are seeking to finish the term of former mayor Charles Moreau, who resigned due to corruption charges. Diossa spokesman Bill Fischer turned down an invitation to debate Moran on the Nov. 30 taping of WPRI 12’s Newsmakers.
“James has already participated in three debates with Colonel Moran,” Fischer told WPRI.com in an email, noting that Diossa and Moran took part in candidate forums prior to the primary. “Given the short window between the primary and the general in the special election, we are respectfully going to decline the invitation.”
Moran will appear on the program without Diossa, who was on the board of Engage Rhode Island until he kicked off his campaign for mayor.
Diossa has been making an aggressive bid for the mayor’s job, winning endorsements from leading Democrats including U.S. Sen. Jack Reed and Central Falls Sen. Elizabeth Crowley. Diossa has spent $28,553 on his campaign since Oct. 16, eight times more than Moran, who has spent $3,472.
Diossa has emphasized his commitment to changing the way Central Falls does business.
“To turn Central Falls around and restore the trust of our people, I pledge to run the most transparent city government possible,” he said when he unveiled proposed new ethics rules [pdf]. Phil West, Common Cause Rhode Island’s former leader, praised Diossa’s commitment to “honesty, integrity and transparency.”
Tim White contributed to this report. This story has been updated. An earlier version incorrectly said Diossa is 28 years old; he is 27.