FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — Embattled Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia confirmed Tuesday that he’s stepping aside from his mayoral duties for the remainder of the year and ending his bid for re-election.
However, Correia is not actually leaving office yet—the mayor said he’s taking a temporary leave of absence before he formally resigns on Jan. 1. Mayoral duties will be handled by City Council President Cliff Ponte in the interim.
Ponte took over at 4 p.m. Tuesday after Correia submitted a letter making his absence official.
A spokesperson for Correia told Eyewitness News the mayor will still receive his salary until he steps down.
Correia used most of Tuesday’s news conference to tout what he cited as his accomplishments while serving as mayor. “And I fully expect to lead this city on the rise once again in the future,” he said.
After finishing his remarks, Correia walked away without answering any questions and got into his car.
The announcement came as the second-term Democrat faces federal charges including fraud and extortion in two separate cases. He is scheduled to go on trial in February. Correia denies the allegations.
“Today’s announcement provides the city of Fall River an opportunity to build on the successes and accomplishments of my administration without any distraction,” he said.
Back in March, Correia was recalled by voters and re-elected on the same ballot.
Correia’s name will still be on the ballot for mayor in the Nov. 5 election, when he was scheduled to face School Committee member Paul Coogan, who received far more votes than the incumbent in last month’s preliminary round.
Erica Scott-Pacheco, who came in third in the preliminary election, released a statement Tuesday saying she believes Correia should outright resign instead of drawing a taxpayer-funded salary while out on leave. She also said it was “shameful” that he didn’t announce his intentions in time to be removed from the upcoming ballot.
“I will not replace him on the general election ballot,” she wrote. “Per our City Charter, the deadline for changes was September 23. Correia’s announcement today is another bizarre, self-serving move to deprive the voters of two legitimate candidates for Mayor on November 5.”
Scott-Pacheco also said she won’t run a write-in campaign this late in the game despite the “hundreds of voters” encouraging her to do so.