Polls close in Fall River as voters await fate of embattled mayor

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Preliminary vote held amid power struggle at Government Center

Update: Coogan, Correia advance in Fall River mayoral race »

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — Three candidates are on the ballot for Fall River’s mayoral preliminary vote. But, only two will move on to the general election in November.

Polls opened Tuesday in the city at 7 a.m. and closed at 8 p.m. More than 10,000 voters had cast ballots by 5:45, elections officials said, suggesting turnout would be higher than in the last two preliminary elections.

Embattled Mayor Jasiel Correia is facing off against two challengers – Paul Coogan and Erica Scott-Pacheco. A preliminary is similar to a primary, except it’s non-partisan so voters aren’t limited to voting for candidates in a specific party.

Your Local Elections HQ: What you need to know about Fall River’s preliminary »

The preliminary vote comes less than two weeks after Correia’s arrest on federal extortion charges. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Correia extorted hundreds of thousands of dollars from marijuana vendors vying to open up in the city.

It was the mayor’s second federal indictment in less than a year. He’s also accused of fraud and filing false tax returns.

Despite a City Council vote temporarily removing Correia from office, he’s been showing up for work at Government Center.

“I don’t see how eight people on a council can override the thousands of voters that vote and just voted in March of this year, I think the council should once again let the people of Fall River decide who their mayor is, not the council,” Correia said.

Both Coogan and Scott-Pacheco said there’s a lot riding on Tuesday’s preliminary.

“That’s between the council and the mayor, and they’re working through their rules and regulations out of the charter. If they want to return honest government with civility and the ability to work with other people back to the 6th floor of government center then they’ll vote for me,” Coogan said.

“The moment is very urgent right now to do so, to restore respect and justice because we have these very serious, disturbing allegations of corruption from within city hall,” Scott Pacheco said.

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