NEW BEDFORD — New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell made history Tuesday night, becoming the first mayor elected to a four-year term and leading the incumbent candidates in a clean sweep of all challengers.

Mitchell defeated political newcomer Richard Tyson Moultrie by a nearly two-to-one ratio, earning 6,778 votes for 72 percent, while Moultrie notched 2,483 votes for 26.38 percent.

It was a strong show of support for Mitchell, who will finish his upcoming term as New Bedford’s longest continuously serving mayor, but also an improved showing for Moultrie, who got almost 11 percent of the vote in the October preliminary election but was elevated to second place when Councilor-at-Large Brian Gomes withdrew his name from the mayoral race.

A total of 9,785 votes were cast in New Bedford Tuesday, for a 16.4 percent voter turnout.

In the at-large race, all five incumbents were re-elected. Ian Abreu was the top vote-getter with 5,588 total votes (15.3 percent), followed by Linda Morad with 5,372 (14.71 percent), Naomi Carney with 4,820 (13.19 percent), Debora Coelho with 4,720 (12.92 percent) and Brian Gomes, who in the 2017 election had been the top vote-getter, finished fifth with 4,345 (11.89 percent). 

The five challengers were all defeated, with Paul Chasse leading the pack with 3,409 votes (9.33 percent), followed by Leo Choquette (2,309 for 6.32 percent), Lisa White (2,298 for 6.29 percent), Michael Janson (2,049 for 5.61 percent) and Carlos Pimentel Felix (1,507 for 4.13 percent).

In what was widely expected to be the most tightly-contested ward race, newcomer Derek Baptiste defeated former Ward 4 Councilor Joseph “Jo-Jo” Fortes, 999-613. Baptiste got 61.55 percent of the vote and Fortes earned 37.77 percent in the race. Current Ward 4 Councilor Dana Rebeiro opted not to seek re-election, keeping her campaign promise from two years ago to step down at the end of this term.

Instead, the closest ward race came in Ward 1, where incumbent William Brad Markey edged out challenger Melissa Costa 1,236-1,006. Markey got 54.91 percent of the vote, compared to Costa’s 44.69 percent.

Hugh Dunn hung on to the Ward 3 seat, defeating Guy LaRock 857-312, or 73.06 percent to 26.6 percent.

Three ward councilors ran unopposed: Maria Giesta earned 98.5 percent of the vote in Ward 2, Scott Lima notched 97.7 percent in Ward 5, and Joe Lopes earned 97.9 percent Ward 6.

Peter Berthiaume ran unopposed in his re-election bid for Assessor, garnering 98.5 percent of the vote.

All three incumbent School Committee members were re-elected in what turned out to be a very close race. Chris Cotter was the top vote-getter with 5,234 votes (23.76) percent, followed closely by Bruce Oliveira with 4,988 votes (22.64 percent) and Joaquim “Jack” Livramento with 4,633 votes (21.03 percent). Challenger Ross Grace, Jr. just missed out with 4,236 votes (19.23 percent) and Christopher Boerl also had a solid showing with 2,876 votes (13.06 percent).

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