“I am speechless,” declared Jasiel Correia — and he wasn’t the only one.
The 29-year-old Fall River mayor had just been recalled from office — and then re-elected to that post — in a single election, a stunning electoral push-me-pull-you move by voters that left the young mayor elated and observers scratching their heads.
Under federal indictment for corruption charges related to a startup business he founded, Correia found himself the second Fall River mayor facing a recall election in five years. But unlike Will Flanagan, who was bounced from office in 2014, Correia survived yesterday’s balloting — even though more than 60 percent of voters favored the recall.
Here’s how he pulled it off.
Fall River voters actually had two questions before them on yesterday’s ballot. The first asked whether they favored removing the sitting mayor from office. The second asked them to choose from among a slate of contenders vying for the seat in the event that the recall question passed.
The recall passed by a wide margin, 7,829 to 4,911. But Correia appeared on the replacement ballot as one of the five candidates to fill the seat if the recall passed. In other words, he was running to be his own replacement, if it came to that.
He got 4,808 votes, or about a third of the ballots cast in the five-way race, but it was enough to land him on top of the heap — and back in office. Or, more accurately, it simply kept him in office.
There are a few questions about the city’s recall process that are sure to gain fresh attention in the wake of yesterday’s result. The first is that, despite the chance to change this during an update of the city charter two years ago, a mayor facing recall in Fall River is allowed to run in the election concurrently held to select his or her replacement.
The second issue is that, unlike conventional elections for mayor, where the top two finishers in a preliminary contest face each other in the final election, the recall election is a single ballot first-past-the-post race, meaning victory goes to whoever earns the most votes, even if it’s far short of a majority. With five names on the ballot, that’s exactly what happened, as Correia garnered about a third of the vote, but edged out the second-place finisher by fewer than 300 votes.
The race will surely stand as yet another clear case for ranked-choice voting, a system designed to prevent electing officials with narrow plurality margins. The Fall River Herald News wrote about ranked-choice voting last month as a hedge against exactly the outcome seen in yesterday’s race.
In reporting on yesterday’s election, the Herald News raises the idea that Correia not only benefited from the lack of a runoff but perhaps also from a more deliberate effort to tilt things in his favor. It points to the fact City Councilor Joe Camara, a longtime Correia supporter who helped block a city council vote in November declaring Correia unable to carry out his duties, ran in yesterday’s recall election and pulled in nearly 2,000 votes. Whether it was by design or not, the paper says, Camara served as a “spoiler” who helped divide up the non-Correia votes enough for the mayor to prevail.
While Correia was celebrating yesterday’s stunning turn of events, it is hardly clear sailing for the brash young pol.
He faces reelection in the fall under conventional rules where he would face-off against a single opponent if he’s one of the top two finishers in the preliminary. And there is the minor matter of the federal indictment that could land him in prison — the next court date in the case is April 23.
Correia can only hope the lucky breaks he had yesterday are a sign of what’s to come.
T notes: House Speaker Robert DeLeo says he’s open to anything, including tax hikes and higher fees on ride-hailing apps, to get the state’s transportation system on track. (State House News/CommonWealth) There is already talk in the business community about backing a gas tax. (Boston Globe)
Sen. Diana DiZoglio of Methuen accuses House Speaker Robert DeLeo of propagandizing the debate over non-disclosure agreements between the two branches. (CommonWealth)
The attorney general’s office rules the Board of Selectmen in Charlton violated the state’s open meeting law. (Telegram & Gazette)
Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant gets reimbursed by the town for personal gas purchases to visit his second home in New Hampshire. (MetroWest Daily News)
The Brockton License Commission has denied an initial application for the city’s largest concert ever, though southern California-based Synergy Global Entertainment may return with a revised application. (Brockton Enterprise)
Before the owners of the waterfront Building Center could comply with the city’s order to tear down the structure, the roof collapsed on Monday, sending one of its walls into Gloucester Harbor. (Gloucester Daily Times)
Scot Lehigh says it was smart of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to take impeachment off the table unless there is strong Republican support for the move. (Boston Globe)
At a live recording of The Codcast with Jesse Mermell and Jennifer Nassour, we learn Alice Paul still resonates in Boston. Who’s Alice Paul? She’s a trailblazing suffragette who led the fight for a women’s right to vote and in the process changed perceptions about feminism. Hear author Tina Cassidy and panelists Andrea Campbell, president of the Boston City Council; Tanisha Sullivan, president of the Boston chapter of the NAACP; and Keiko Orrall, a former state lawmaker. (CommonWealth)
The Pine Street Inn is proposing to build 140 units of permanent housing for formerly homeless people in Jamaica Plain. (Boston Globe)
US Attorney Andrew Lelling busts up a “side door” entrance into college being used by wealthy, well-connected people willing to spend millions of dollars bribing university officials and cheating on standardized tests. (CommonWealth) Howie Carr dives in, delighting in the fact that only a few of the uber-wealthy parents who bought their kids’ way into colleges appear to be Republicans. (Boston Herald). The scandal involves several men with connections to Cape Cod, including one that owns a large Hyannisport property. (Cape Cod Times). Rachel Rubin, a Brookline-based college admissions consultant, was surprised that type of practice wasn’t a major issue sooner. (WBUR)
Neuroscientist BethAnn McLaughlin helped raise awareness about sexual harassment in science academia through #MeTooSTEM.com, and earned a Disobedience Award from MIT’s Media Lab, but her employer, Vanderbilt University, has denied her tenure and unless the chancellor reverses the decision she will be out of a job. (WGBH)
Tarana Burke, founder of the Me Too movement, will speak at Salem State University’s School of Graduate Studies for the May 16 commencement. (Salem News)
Police in Beverly have established a presence at all the city’s schools after a bullet was found in a middle school hallway on Friday and another bullet was discovered outside a school administration building on Monday. (Salem News)
The Massachusetts Health Connector says it has 282,000 members. (MassLive)
Ed Siegel, who was the editor of The ARTery, argues that it is crucial to judge the work of an artist apart from any misdeeds the artist may have committed just as we make use of science without considering the personal lives of those who made the discoveries. (WBUR)
Samya Stumo, a 24-year-old graduate of UMass Amherst, was among the 157 people killed when a Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed in Ethiopia. Dozens of countries have grounded that model of plane, but the Federal Aviation Administration says it is safe to fly. (WBUR)
Saugus wanted to lower the speed limit on four streets to 25 miles per hour to curb traffic deaths, but the state Department of Transportation said no. (Daily Item)
A Herald editorial criticizes the MBTA’s decision to raise fares at a time when it’s bleeding riders.
Town officials and environmental group representatives on Cape Cod say they want to tackle the region’s plastic pollution and litter problems, but need to agree upon how at the Clean Cape and Islands Summit. (Cape Cod Times)
Six months after natural gas fires blew apart his city, Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera says the utility Columbia Gas does a great job with “inanimate objects” like pipes and appliances, but not so much with people. He also said, “I think the same situation could happen tomorrow.” (WGBH)
A Holyoke man pleads guilty to making a fully automatic machine gun in his basement. (MassLive)
Hackers demanding ransom have wreaked havoc on the computer systems of the state agency that handles representing indigent defendants in court. (Boston Globe)
Boston Police Commissioner William Gross met with city nightclub owners to ask for greater cooperation among the businesses with police in the wake of the abduction and killing of Jassy Correia after she left a downtown club. (Boston Herald)
A lawyer representing a Randolph special education teacher accused of assaulting children as young as six has denied the allegations, saying they were made by a disgruntled employee. (Patriot Ledger)
Netflix says its average subscriber watches for two hours a day. (Variety)
Media critic Dan Kennedy says Fox News’s Tucker Carlson may have hit rock bottom for misogynistic comments made several years ago on a radio show called “Bubba the Love Sponge.” (WGBH)