Senator Rodrigues Is Fall River’s Stabilizing Force [OPINION]
On March 12, the city of Fall River will go to the polls for another mayoral recall election. The current mayor is out on bail and fighting for his elected job.
Every city in Massachusetts relies on the state budget to fund their local operations. Cities and towns also need support from the state for economic development projects, new school buildings, transportation dreams and a variety of permits big and small.
The city of Fall River is in crisis. Mayor Jasiel Correia II has been indicted by the federal government for financial crimes unrelated to his position as mayor. A citizen movement succeeded in getting enough support to trigger a recall election. There are five candidates, including Mayor Correia, seeking the office in the recall election.
There is a strong chance the currently indicted mayor will win the election on Tuesday. The federal investigation of his business activities was well known to the people of Fall River when they re-elected him in 2017. In a five-way race, the advantage is with the incumbent, indicted or not.
If the people of Fall River keep Mayor Correia in power, there is going to be a lot of concern on the state level. Governor Charlie Baker has called on Correia to resign because of his indictment. Congressman William Keating has also called on him to step down. The Fall River City Council has asked him to resign, too.
Fortunately for the city, they have a strong and stable champion in their state senator. Sen. Michael Rodrigues has served in the Senate since 2010 and was recently named the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in that body. Fall River's senator will be crafting the Massachusetts state budget on the Senate side and making sure his district receives what it needs.
Prior to serving in the Senate, Rodrigues was a state representative for 14 years. The suburban Democrat is also an accomplished businessman with a background in accounting. He is the President and Treasurer of ABC Flooring, Inc. in Westport.
He has a close relationship with Gov. Charlie Baker. Despite being a Republican, Gov. Baker is a regular at Sen. Rodrigues' events in the greater Fall River area. That relationship is going to be crucial if Mayor Correia retains control of the city. Baker is going to need someone he can trust in Fall River, and that is Sen. Rodrigues.
Sen. Rodrigues earns high marks from other elected officials in his district. Mitzi Hollenbeck, a certified public accountant, and Aaron Burke, a real estate attorney, are both members of the Lakeville Board of Selectman. They praise Sen. Rodrigues for his skills in navigating the state bureaucracy and his advocacy for their town.
Rodrigues is trusted and respected by his fellow senators. He handled the messy inquiry of the behavior by former Senate President Stanley Rosenberg's husband that resulted in criminal charges against the husband and the resignation of Rosenberg. Rodrigues has proven he has the ability to work effectively during a public criminal political crisis.
It remains to be seen what the voters of Fall River will do in the upcoming election. But we do know they are capable of making to right decision because they have sent Mike Rodrigues to the State Senate numerous times.
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.