FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — After Mayor Jasiel Correia was recalled and re-elected on the same ballot earlier this week, a city councilor is pushing once again for a vote to remove him from office and replace him with an acting mayor.
In a letter to City Council President Cliff Ponte, Councilor Shawn Cadime requested a special meeting be held to take a public vote to determine if Correia is able to perform his duties as mayor.
Cadime insisted in his letter that one of the first actions Correia took after the election was “political retribution” by removing School Committee Vice Chairman Mark Costa from the Durfee Building Committee and School Committee member Paul Coogan, who he had narrowly edged out in the recall election.
“This substantiates his inability to govern our city fairly, justly and without malice,” Cadime wrote. “There is no telling what recourse will be given to other city employees who may have supported another candidate during the recall election.”
Cadime also said it is “extremely alarming” that Correia is in charge of crafting the city’s more than $300-million budget while facing fraud charges. He said there are no guarantees the budget “will be compiled without malicious intent or without any impacts that solely benefit his political survival.”
The recall election was prompted by Correia’s arrest last October. The mayor is facing more than a dozen counts of wire fraud and filing false tax returns.
Federal prosecutors allege Correia misused $231,000 of the $363,000 he accepted from seven investors into SnoOwl, the app company he founded in 2012, while misleading them about the business. The mayor has repeatedly denied all the charges against him.
According to Cadime, the Home Rule Charter states seven “yes” votes means the City Council President, Ponte, would assume the role of acting mayor. Ponte would be in this role until the charges against Correia are resolved or concluded or until the next city election.
In a statement to Eyewitness News, Ponte said the mayor’s decision to remove Coogan and Costa from the building committee “shows lack of leadership in times where our community needs and deserves stability.”
“Our Mayor has and continues to give our community unnecessary local and national attention and our community does not deserve this. We do not have time for petty or revenge politics. We need stability and hopefully, the mayor recognizes that and can step up and lead. Leadership starts from the top,” Ponte said.
Cadime sent a similar letter back in October asking for a vote, however, a city attorney said the Council may not have the authority to suspend Correia from office. Despite this, a special meeting was held anyway where the Council voted “no confidence” in Correia and asked him to resign.
Correia declined to talk to reporters outside City Hall on the morning after the recall. A status conference in his case is scheduled for April 23.