Residents of Fall River will be voting on whether to recall Mayor Jasiel Correia.
The City Council voted Wednesday night to move ahead with the recall election, set for March 12. All but one councilor voted yes.
After the meeting, council President Cliff Ponte said he’s ready to see an end to a story that’s brought unwanted attention to the city.
“Our mayor is under a 13-count federal indictment right now, and that has placed the burden on this community and this council and the business owners and the residents," he said.
In the fall, the 27-year-old mayor was indicted over allegations he bilked investors in a tech company he formed before becoming mayor.
Correia denies the charges and has rejected calls for his resignation. But more than 4,000 voters signed a petition to get the recall measure on the ballot.
Correia did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
But Ponte says he’s ready for the mayor to try and keep his job, whether by challenging the recall effort, or by running again for mayor.
“The council didn’t bring the 13-count federal indictment on him, he did," Ponte said. "So it’s going to be on him to run in the recall election if he so chooses, which he has indicated, and it’s up to the residents to see if they want stability and to continue on with the city forward or if they want to continue with Jasiel Correia as mayor.”
Despite the charges he’s facing, Correia can still count on a group of diehard supporters. One of them is Cheryl Costa, who came to the council meeting with four other women who back the mayor.
“He’s the best mayor we’ve ever had," Costa said. "I think it’s a waste of money to have a recall. September we’re going to have another election, so why can’t they keep him until then? And you’re innocent until proven guilty so we don’t even know if he’s guilty yet, and they’ve already got him tried and hung.”
But Correia’s opponents are just as vocal as his supporters. Fall River resident Ron Cabral says he knows enough about Correia to want him out as mayor.
“I think it’s ridiculous, it’s totally out of hand," Cabral said. "When I get phone calls from family and friends, what’s going on with my city, and I have to explain what’s going on. It’s not right.”
Correia won the mayor’s seat after the recall of former Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan. And even if he too is recalled, Correia has said he plans to run in the next election.