Voters Deliver Few Surprises in New Bedford Election [OPINION]
There were no real surprises in the New Bedford municipal elections on Tuesday, with the possible exception of the margin by which Derek Baptiste defeated Jo-Jo Fortes in the Ward 4 council race. Baptiste, a political newcomer, delivered a decisive win in a ward often remembered for close races and recounts.
Richard Tyson Moultrie unexpectedly burst onto the scene following Brian Gomes' withdrawal from the mayor's race after the preliminary election, but Moultrie never posed a serious threat to Mayor Jon Mitchell, who easily cruised to a fifth term, the first four-year term for a New Bedford mayor.
Moultrie may or may not have a future in New Bedford politics. It all depends upon him and whether he is prepared to do what it takes to endear himself to the populous. My suggestion would be that Moultrie try for a seat on the city council in two years.
Ian Abreu certainly deserves kudos for his strong first-place showing in the at-large council race and I suspect it will serve him well in terms of his influence with his colleagues. Veteran Brian Gomes slipped a bit with voters due in part to personal issues and his debacle in the preliminary, which saw him appear on the ballot as both a candidate for mayor as well as for re-election. Gomes' rough finish was not unexpected and two years is plenty of time for him to recover his standing with voters.
Chris Cotter collected the most votes in the school committee race which comes as no surprise as Cotter is seen as a strong advocate for education who is not afraid to ruffle a few feathers.
Political newcomers Paul Chasse, who ran for an at-large council seat, and school committee candidate Ross Grace, Jr. placed well in a field dominated by incumbents and should try again. Tuesday's poor weather may have had as much an impact on their fate as anything else. A low turnout generally favors incumbents.
Even the dismal turnout, 16.4 percent, doesn't come as much of a surprise. The fact that there was no exciting "top of the ticket" race to draw out voters combined with the torrential rain during the afternoon rush hours when many folks tend to vote kept turnout to a minimum.
Congratulations to all of the winners and thank you to everyone who chose to put it on the line for the city of New Bedford. Your participation in the process is appreciated and inspiring.
The election cycle is over and it's time now for everyone to come together to do their part to make New Bedford great again.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.