As Fall River mayor’s wife recovers from crash, Coogan and Ponte still in campaign mode

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FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — On Tuesday, voters in Fall River will decide whether Mayor Paul Coogan keeps his job or City Council President Cliff Ponte gets a promotion.

In September’s preliminary election, Coogan received 3,893 votes, while Ponte received 2,118, according to results provided by city elections officials.

Coogan is finishing his first term after ousting then-Mayor Jasiel Correia in 2019. Ponte served as acting mayor for a time following Correia’s second arrest.

“I think it’s time for us to acknowledge that we have a lot of work to do,” Ponte told 12 News on Monday.

“We have some decisions that need to be made, we have to start planning for the future, we need to start being innovative and creative,” he added. “We have some budget problems facing us in Fall River right now, even though we have one-time money, we have a lot of work to do.”

Coogan also acknowledged the work ahead as he hopes to hold onto his office.

“We’re going to be working on how best to spend the ARPA money, how we can improve education, public safety,” Coogan said. “Those are the those are the things people look for in Fall River: infrastructure, public safety, education, building more relationships with people. That’s what we’re going to work on and we’re going to keep right on going.”

While Coogan and Ponte are in their final days of campaigning, Coogan’s wife, Judi St. Hilaire, continues to recover at the hospital after she was hit by a car during a bike ride on Sunday.

“It’s going to be a long recovery and it’s going to take a while. This is pretty devastating stuff,” Coogan said Monday.

According to Coogan, his wife has multiple broken ribs, and they’re working to get more information about what happened. He said his wife told him to continue campaigning in between visits to the hospital.

“You don’t know my wife. She’s got a ferocious competitive streak inside of her, and she’s not backing down for anybody,” Coogan said. “She’s been a competitor as long as I’ve known her and she never backed down from a fight.”

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