Coogan wins landslide over Correia for Fall River mayor

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FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — School Committee member Paul Coogan has won a landslide victory in the election for mayor of Fall River, preliminary results show.

Coogan earned nearly 80% of the vote, defeating incumbent Mayor Jasiel Correia (7%) and write-in candidate Cathy Ann Viveiros. Correia suspended his campaign last month and took a paid leave of absence to fight a federal corruption indictment.

Coogan will become the eighth person to serve as mayor of Fall River in barely 12 years when he takes office, a period of extended political turmoil in the city of roughly 90,000 people.

“I want to focus on healing this city,” Coogan told WPRI 12.

Roughly 14,000 people cast ballots on Tuesday, down slightly from the nearly 15,200 who voted in 2017. Despite his legal problems and suspended campaign, Correia still managed to earn more than 1,000 votes on Tuesday.

During a victory speech, Coogan said he wants to focus on two words: “integrity” and “together.”

“I promise tonight that as I make decisions, no decisions will be based on how it affects me, or how it affects my political future,” he said. “My decisions will be based on data, people’s viewpoints and what I truly believe is in the best interest of Fall River.”

Alluding to Correia, he added, “I will never get caught in any kind of shenanigans like that.”

The city has been plagued with scandals and political drama in recent years, most notably involving Correia, who became Fall River’s youngest-ever mayor when he was elected in 2015. (He won by defeating incumbent Sam Sutter, who had become mayor less than a year earlier when the prior mayor, Will Flanagan, was recalled after an episode involving Correia.)

Correia was re-elected in 2017, but was indicted the following year for defrauding investors in his startup. Correia, who pleaded not guilty, was recalled and re-elected on the same ballot during a recall election this past March.

In September, the mayor was indicted again for allegedly soliciting bribes from marijuana businesses. He also pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Coogan, who will be sworn in in January for a two-year term, is looking to change the narrative surrounding Fall River.

“Let’s bury whatever separates us and embrace whatever unites us and commit to a different way of running our city,” he said.

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