Recall organizer ‘not surprised’ by Fall River election results

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FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — One day after Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia was recalled and re-elected on the same ballot, the organizer of the group that aimed to oust him says he isn’t surprised by the results.

Uncertified results show 61% of voters chose to recall Correia. But on the second question about who should fill the job going forward, Correia received 35% of the vote, narrowly edging out runner-up Paul Coogan, a School Committee member who got 34% of the vote.

There were two questions on the ballot. The first asked whether or not the voters wanted to recall Correia. The second asked voters who they would want as mayor instead.

Since both questions were on the same ballot, voters could still answer the second question no matter how they voted on the first question, meaning they could vote to re-elect Correia himself.

“I do think this is an unusual occurrence,” UMass Dartmouth Professor of Public Policy Michael Goodman said.

“It’s clear the existing process of dealing with recall elections in Fall River ultimately frustrated the will of the voters yesterday as a clear majority of them expressed the preference to have a new person in city hall,” he said.

Yet Goodman also said the results aren’t surprising given the number of candidates who ran for mayor. He said if the number of candidates had been smaller, there could have been a different outcome.

Joseph Pereira, who helped organize Fall River Recall, had a similar reaction.

“This is what you get,” he said. “If they had thrown in and maybe somewhere along the lines said, ‘Hey I’m throwing all my support to this other guy,’ it would have been completely different, but we can’t go back.”

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.

A status conference in Correia’s case is scheduled for April 23.

Following a vote of “no confidence” from the Fall River City Council and Correia’s repeated refusal to resign, the city scheduled the recall election.

Four candidates challenged Correia in the recall election: Coogan, Councilman Joe Camara, school administrator Kyle Riley and Director of Development for the South Coastal Legal Services Erica Scott-Pacheco.

Behind Coogan, Camara received 15% of the vote, Riley received 11% of the vote and Scott-Pacheco received 5% of the vote.

A regular mayoral election is set to take place this November, meaning Correia will only hold office for eight more months. There will only be two candidates on the ballot in November after others are eliminated in a preliminary vote in September.

Correia said his campaigning for that election began on Wednesday. Coogan also hinted he will be running again in the fall.

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