Who Voted for Jasiel? [SOUTHCOAST VOICES]
THIS GUEST OPINION PIECE BY: Jessica Machado is a freelance writer and former contributor to the Fall River Herald News. She is also a former radio host at WSAR and political blogger.
Tuesday's mayoral primary in Fall River yielded improbable results: embattled Mayor Jasiel Correia II managed to come in second place, securing himself a spot on the ticket for the November election. And while it seemed as if there wasn't a soul who would pick his name on that three-person ballot, close to 3,000 residents did. Who are they?
The voters who chose Correia this past Tuesday have strong convictions. They believe that despite the 24 indictments that a person is innocent until proven guilty, a concept that seems to have been lost in this social media world. These voters are people who know him personally, who know his parents and family and can attest to the kind of people they are: hard-working, God-fearing, proud cultural people with a true love for the city of Fall River.
Correira voters see the writing on the wall. The mayor's approach to making the city better included some big changes, including the termination of a partnership with the Fall River Office of Economic Development and its top executive Ken Fiola, who for decades has been earning over $100K a year in salary with what many say were no results for a stagnant economic environment.
This unprecedented move was a welcome change to the Correia voters who have watched for years as other communities around them thrived while Fall River remained still. These voters know that Correia has the confidence to go against the grain and make tough decisions. Those that voted for him have seen firsthand the changes in the city, the forward progress, and are not willing to relinquish that momentum to a candidate with no plan. For them, they believe Coogan's plan to take back the city from the mayor means going backward, and they are only thinking of the future.
While reflecting on the votes for Correia, we should all question who cast a vote for Paul Coogan, the top vote-getter in this primary. Perhaps vocal supporter Dawn Saurette said it best on election day when asked why, while holding signs at a Highlands precinct, she was voting for Coogan: "He isn't Jasiel.” One has to ask how many of Coogan’s votes were exactly that, less about Coogan being the best candidate and more about being anti-Jasiel, for whatever the reason. With Correia's long list of accomplishments as mayor, from improving city streets, job stability for teachers, $8 million in the stabilization fund, and more, are Fall River voters really doing the right thing for the city?
Lastly, of the 2,777 voters who filled in the circle next to the mayor's name, there were those who love a good underdog story, those who believe in a good comeback. Should he pull off a win in November – or even better, a win in court – it would indeed be the comeback story of a lifetime.
Those 2,777 residents are waiting for it.
Editor's Note: 'SouthCoast Voices' is a series of guest opinions from newsmakers and other people across the region, on relevant issues that directly impact the people of Greater New Bedford and the surrounding communities. The opinions are solely those of the author. If you are interested in contributing, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.