The City of Fall River has churned through eight mayors in fourteen years. The current mayor, Paul Coogan, is running for a second two-year term on a simple promise: to bring stability and transparency back to City Hall after his predecessor was sentenced to six years in prison for taking bribes from marijuana companies

Coogan’s challenger, City Council President Cliff Ponte, is a fiscal conservative who’s grilled the mayor for using one-time coronavirus relief money to plug a deficit in the city budget. He’s also criticized Coogan for charging expensive fees to review applications from prospective marijuana businesses, without clarifying publicly how that money would be spent. 

Coogan won 62 percent of the vote in a low-turnout primary in September. If Ponte loses again in the final election on Tuesday, he’ll be out of public office. Fall River’s eight other city councilors are all fighting for re-election in a crowded field of candidates

Fall River voters will also have to choose six School Committee members from a field of ten candidates. Whoever is elected mayor will serve as the committee’s seventh member.

A few miles down the coast in New Bedford, there are contested elections for the City Council and the office of the tax assessor. Erik Andrade, a poet and activist, wants to unseat the incumbent Kimberly Saunders, who’s a certified accountant. Andrade thinks the formula for calculating property taxes should be reimagined to combat gentrification.

On New Bedford’s city council, ten candidates are running for five at-large seats, and three ward councilors are fighting challengers from their neighborhoods. Another three ward councilors are running unopposed, including Hugh Dunn, a councilor charged with drunk driving this fall, five months after he left the scene of an accident without being asked to take a sobriety test. 

Tuesday’s election for the New Bedford School Committee is expected to be noncompetitive. Three candidates are running for three open seats. 

Voters who aren’t sure where to go to cast their ballot on Tuesday can look up their polling place online by entering their address into this search tool provided by the Massachusetts Secretary of State.

Ben Berke is the South Coast Bureau Reporter for The Public’s Radio. He can be reached at