Another Election in Fall River? Sure, Let’s Do It! [OPINION]
Now that the recall election is over in Fall River, it sure seems time to have another one. There is a legitimate case to throw out the last election.
The politics in Fall River, Massachusetts are hilarious—unless you live in that city or in the region that the rest of the world considers part of Fall River.
For the record, Fall River and New Bedford are not the same, and here is an example of this difference to keep in mind: the mayor of Fall River is Jasiel Correia II and he is under federal indictment for financial crimes. The mayor of New Bedford is Jon Mitchell and he was a federal prosecutor in the same office that indicted Jasiel Correia II. Need I say more?
The city recalled the indicted mayor by over 60 percent of the vote last week and then re-elected him with just 35 percent of the vote on the same ballot. The indicted and recalled mayor was in a five-person race on the second question on the ballot and was able to get the largest share of the vote over his opponents. He is still in charge of the city, despite being kicked out of office by a landslide and then having another landslide of votes cast in total against him.
Now there is a lawsuit by 10 taxpayers asking the courts to toss out the election results and Mayor Correia and award the election and the job of the mayor to the second-place finisher, Paul Coogan. The taxpayers are arguing the indicted mayor should have not been on the ballot in the second question. They make a convincing case, and I encourage you to read it here.
The way the ballot was structured gave the indicted mayor two opportunities to hold onto his job. If the voters opted to not recall him, he would hold his job despite what the results of the second question turned out to be. In theory, the voters could have voted to not recall him from office, and then give a majority of their votes to another candidate appearing on the ballot in the second question.
The structure of the ballot created a twisted campaign.
Each challenger appearing in the second question had two hurdles to win. First, they had to have the first question, whether to recall the incumbent mayor, succeed in removing him. Then they had to win the most votes of the five candidates on the ballot.
In reality, Mayor Correia had just one task to win: get the most votes of all the candidates. If he won the first question, the results of the second question would be invalid.
But is awarding the results to Coogan the correct remedy?
There is time between now and the next election in September to have another recall election.
Don't stop the carnival!
Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.