FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — The organizers of an effort to recall embattled Mayor Jasiel F. Correia II turned in two-thirds of the required signatures for a recall election to the city clerk’s office Friday afternoon.
The signatures will need to be verified and matched to voter registration records by the Board of Elections. The organizers of the recall efforts plan to turn in the rest of the required signatures by next Friday.
“It is incredible when democracy really kicks in and you see a grassroots effort rise up,” said Joseph Pereira, one of the recall organizers. “It’s a beautiful thing.”
The organizers have been collecting signatures at local supermarkets and also stood outside the polls on Election Day.
“I don’t see how we can continue to do business when you have a mayor who is under suspicious of wrongdoing,” said Dawn Saurette, another recall organizer. “Nobody would want to do business with someone that they think might be criminally responsible for something.”
The petition needs to get 5% of registered voters, or 2,510 signatures within 20 days of the originally affidavit’s certification.
Correia was arrested by federal authorities on October 11 and charged with more than a dozen counts of fraud and tax charges. He pleaded not guilty and has repeatedly said he will not resign as mayor.
Saurette showed Eyewitness News a “cease and desist” letter sent by Corporation Counsel Joseph Macy, the city’s attorney, telling the recall organizers to take down their signs and stop displaying their recall logo, which Macy said is “so strikingly similar to that copy righted and and trade marked by the city as to be virtually identical.”
The city’s logo uses a dotted line that turns into a solid line to form the letters “FR.” The recall logo is just an R, but in the same style of the city logo.
“Just an intimidation tactic,” Saurette said of the letter from the city. (The group did change their logo in order to avoid a court battle.)
An email to Joseph Macy requesting comment was not immediately returned. The mayor’s office did not respond to a request for comment about the progressing recall efforts.
Approached by a reporter in the parking lot Friday afternoon, Correia said he was heading to a ribbon cutting and did not stop to talk before getting into his car.
Correia previously said in a statement that he supports right to petition under the city’s charter.
“In the event a recall petition does gain the necessary signatures, I ask that the citizens re-elect me so that our progress can continue,” Correia said on Oct. 30.
The Fall River City Council voted no confidence in Correia on Tuesday night, and requested that the mayor resign.
A vote to try and remove Correia from office under a provision of the charter failed, after councilors expressed concerns about the legality of the move and the cost of an inevitable legal battle.