OPINION | Barry Richard: Area Voters Appear Happy with Leadership
Tuesday's election results suggest that voters throughout the region are generally happy with their leaders.
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell and Fall River's Mayor Jasiel Correia were re-elected in landslides while Taunton's Thomas Hoye ran unopposed. Only Taunton replaced a couple of incumbent city councilors while incumbents in New Bedford and Fall River were returned for another term. Fall River even brought back former councilors Leo Pelletier and Brad Kilby to fill vacancies.
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell fended off a challenge from political newcomer Charlie Perry who performed much better in the preliminary than he did in the general election. Mitchell remains popular with a large section of the population and was elected to a fourth term with 61% of the vote compared to Perry's 39%.
Mitchell has been credited with improving the quality of life in New Bedford with a renewed downtown and walkways atop the hurricane barriers. New Bedford has become as a leader on green energy issues and looks to become very involved in the emerging wind energy industry. While there were no serious issues that threatened Mitchell's re-election, concern about the perception that crime is on the rise was persistent through out the campaign.
Fall River's Jasiel Correia came to power during a tumultuous political upheaval two years ago that drove many of the "connected" backroom deal makers crazy. His solid 61% to 38% victory over veteran City Councilor Linda Pereira confirmed that voters are ready for new things and to move on from the past.
Correia, under constant assault from his detractors and the Fall River media was able to unify the city and should find an easier time moving forward with his ambitious agenda for a new Fall River. Through all of the political drama that has been Fall River politics in recent years there has been tremendous growth. Correia now has a mandate to continue to move the city forward.
In Taunton, Thomas Hoye has enjoyed popular support since stepping in to replace the beloved former Mayor Charlie Crowley, who passed away shortly after retiring several years ago. Taunton was where most of Massachusetts began to hear about the opioid crisis. Hoye's steady leadership on the issue brought the problem into the light and progress is being made in that area.
Hoye also fought to save Taunton State Hospital from closure and even though the city is concerned about a mall that is teetering and a casino that may or may not be developed, the industrial park is full and business is good.
Southeastern Massachusetts has always been slow to recover from tough national economic times. This time has been a bit different as steady leadership with an eye towards economic diversification have diverted calamity and allowed for growth.
Congratulations to Mayors Mitchell, Correia and Hoye. It is in our best interest that they succeed and if yesterday's election results are any indication the people of the region seem pleased and hopeful about the direction in which we are headed.
Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.