FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — The majority of Fall River voters chose to recall Mayor Jasiel Correia on Tuesday, but he still ended up being elected back into office.
Both decisions were made by the same electorate, which took to the polls for a special recall election to decide if Correia, 27, should continue as mayor in the wake of his indictment last fall.
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.
Uncertified results show 61% of voters chose to recall Correia. But on the second question about who should fill the job, Correia received 35% of the vote, narrowly edging out runner-up Paul Coogan, a School Committee member who got 34% of the vote.
“We’re going to keep trying to earn people’s votes, earn their trust, earn their votes, by doing good things for our community like you’ve seen us do,” Correia told reporters after the results were in, citing his elimination of an unpopular trash program, a new high school and increased public-safety employment.
“The list goes on and on,” he said. “So that’s what I think people want. That’s what I’m going to keep doing. And as long as I’m mayor, that’s what you’re going to keep getting from Jasiel Correia.”
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 Tuesday’s 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.
After Tuesday night’s results came in, Coogan addressed a crowd of supporters at Scottie’s Pub in the city. During a speech, he hinted at a possible run for mayor in the upcoming November election.
“I think Fall River deserves better than where we ended up tonight,” Coogan said. “But, the voters ended up voting a different way, and we are going to respect them because that’s how the system works.”
Correia and dozens of his supporters celebrated at Barrett’s Alehouse after all of the precinct’s votes were counted. He said to all of those who voted to recall him from office, he hopes to earn their trust in the future.
A regular mayoral election is set to take place this November, meaning Correia will only hold office for eight more months. Correia said his campaigning for that election will begin on Wednesday.
Correia, a Providence College graduate, was first elected in 2015 at the age of just 23.
Correia’s win made him the city’s third mayor in a decade. He defeated incumbent Mayor Sam Sutter, who in turn had unseated the previous mayor, Will Flanagan, when voters recalled Flanagan in late 2014 after Flanagan allegedly used a gun to intimidate Correia.
Ted Nesi contributed to this report.