Politics

Embattled Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia Loses Election

Paul Coogan has defeated Correia to become the new mayor of Fall River.


jasiel correia

AP Photo/Stephan Savoia

While voters in 58 communities across Massachusetts headed to the polls Tuesday, one city’s election in particular earned outside attention—had Fall River finally had enough of Mayor Jasiel Correia’s potentially corrupt, headline-grabbing antics? Or would the 27-year-old wunderkind, who was once recalled and reelected in the same night, be able to pull off another crazy election day feat?

Turns out, they have, and he couldn’t. Correia lost his election to school committee member Paul Coogan, who clinched over 10,000 votes as Correia barely pulled 1,000, according to the unofficial results of the race.

Anyone who has been following this saga probably should have seen this coming. Correia announced that he would take a leave of absence (but retain his salary) and suspend his mayoral campaign (but remain on the ballot) in October. The news followed a disastrous preliminary election for Correia, in which he finished a distant second to Coogan and received the lowest number of votes he had ever earned in an election. It probably didn’t help that the vote came just a week after the Fall River City Council attempted to oust Correia from office on the basis of his September arrest for conspiracy, extortion, and bribery. While the City Council’s move was ultimately unsuccessful, it’s safe to say that this arrest—the second of Correia’s term—probably played a role in sinking his reelection bid.

It’s been quite the fall from grace for Correia. He first garnered statewide attention in 2015, when at age 23, he became the youngest mayor in Massachusetts history. A Fall River native, Correia’s charisma and confidence brought a new energy to Fall River’s political landscape.

But then came the accusations of corruption. Last October, Correia was accused of misleading investors in his company, SnoOwl, and pocketing more than $230,000 of the funds they contributed, spending it on items like a fancy car and adult entertainment. He was arrested and charged with nine counts of wire fraud and four counts of tax fraud, but he claimed innocence and refused to resign from his role. His September 2019 arrest was for felony charges regarding schemes that date back to 2013. He stands accused of extorting some $600,000 from constituents in exchange for using his office to grant permits and approvals and making his former chief of staff, Genoveva Andrade, pay him half her $78,000 salary to keep her job. Once again, he refused to step down.

During his acceptance speech at his Tuesday night watch party, Coogan expressed that his election will refocus attention off of Fall River’s elected officials and back on the people of the city.

“Thank you for not giving up on me, and thank you for not giving up on Fall River,” Coogan said to his supporters. “The vote today shows how much care and belief you have in Fall River. I want to thank you for your unwavering determination to get this job done.”