FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — A group of Fall River residents is challenging the outcome of the city’s recent election that saw embattled Mayor Jasiel Correia recalled then re-elected.
The group filed a motion for an injunction that was presented in court Thursday, which would stop the certification of the election by city officials. They claim the election did not follow the rules of the city’s most updated charter.
“The charter is missing some language that we need, we acknowledge that,” CJ Ferry said. “So we have to go by the intent, but again, the law doesn’t go by intent. It goes by what it sees in front of it and what is written.”
Last week, 61% of voters chose to recall Correia. But Correia, in turn, received the majority vote on the second question on the ballot, which asked who should replace him.
The city’s attorney, Joseph Macy, claims the validity of the election is not an issue, and the group is just upset with the outcome.
“The people who ran the election were the election commissioners, not the administration, the mayor or anyone else,” he said. “We complied with the charter. We did every single thing we’re supposed to do. The people spoke in accordance with the charter, in accordance with the ballot.”
Ferry believes otherwise, saying the mayor does have authority over the Board of Elections.
“The Board of Elections commissioner’s contract is up for renewal,” Ferry explained. “If she doesn’t do it exactly the way he wants it, she could lose her job. There is intimidation going on.”
The recall election was prompted by Correia’s arrest last October. He faces 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.
The judge who heard the motion says the heart of the issue he must consider is whether or not the city charter prevents a current office holder from being a candidate in a recall election, or his own successor.
In the injunction, the group is asking for a chance to provide more evidence of wrongdoing, with an end goal of changing the charter for the future.
Macy says the certification of the election shouldn’t be delayed for any longer than it needs to be so that the city can carry on with its business.
The regular mayoral election is slated to take place in the fall.