After my interview yesterday with Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia a listener texted to say, "New Bedford politics is an After School Special compared to Fall River." The reality is Fall River politics are a train wreck.

I spent a dozen years covering Fall River government. During that time, the city had five elected mayors and one interim mayor. That's a lot of mayors in a short period of time. It's very difficult for a city such as Fall River, which faces some serious challenges as most post-industrial cities do, to pull it together and move forward. Even with all of the political chaos Fall River has made some great strides. It's too bad they are overshadowed by the antics of its elected leaders.

The City Council has been dominated by personality driven infighting and obstructionism.  There are several current councilors who believe they should be the mayor and outwardly display nothing but utter disdain for the current administration. There are still others who have been around for too long and some who just won't go away.

There quite possibly could be an FBI investigation into the current mayor's business dealings. It's hard to say. The Fall River rumor mill was often used to spread gossip about pending investigations by state and federal officials for most of my time covering the city. Most of which was never substantiated. Such tactics are often used in Fall River to undermine political opponents.

Fall River and New Bedford have similar histories. New Bedford has had its challenges, but has risen to the next level and has made tremendous progress for its citizens. Fall River needs to do the same. A good beginning would be new leadership across the board.  Petty drama has to be pushed aside and replaced by a bold agenda for progress and public servants who truly have the city's best interests at heart.

One thing is for certain, the rest of the state views Fall River politics as a swill pit. Too bad.  Fall River has a lot going for it and there has been a lot of positive change. That, despite the best efforts of its politicians to hold the city back.

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.

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