Fall River has its third mayor in less than a year as 23-year-old Jasiel Correia II defeated Sam Sutter. “This is Correia’s first successful election,” today’s Herald News report explains. “He took office as a 10th place winner on the nine member City Council in 2014 after first-place winner Cathy Ann Viveiros was hired by [then-Mayor William] Flanagan to replace Shawn Cadime as city administrator.” Correia and Flanagan then were involved in a bizarre late-night incident in which Flanagan apparently showed a gun, leading to Flanagan’s eventual recall and an election in which Sutter defeated Flanagan.
The Fall River Herald News had endorsed Sutter, citing his strong record in a short term:
During last year’s recall, Mayor Sam Sutter promised to provide a clear, detailed picture of the city’s finances, and he delivered on that promise. He also promised to make education a priority, and his budget found a way to meet 100 percent of net school spending, albeit unorthodox. Public safety was also a priority, and he successfully made the case for a SAFER grant that allowed the addition of 10 more firefighters to the city’s force.
So what were voters’ concerns?
But Sutter inherited a $6.9 million deficit. While he was able to persuade the City Council to pass his budget with the controversial $10-per-month sanitation fee in order to balance the budget, it has become a major political liability. Whether you agree with it or not, Sutter demonstrated tremendous political courage pushing the fee during an election year.
A trash fee is one of those things that seems like a good idea to wonks (we can raise money & claim it’s a user fee, not a tax increase!) but to voters, can look more like a regressive scheme to nickel & dime them.
Listening to Correia’s supporters, it seems like the election was less about the candidates than about sticking a thumb in the city establishment’s eye. “It’s time to dump the ‘good ol boys’ club members from office. All of them,” wrote one letter to the editor. “The assumption that because Mayor Sam Sutter graduated from an Ivy League college makes him more qualified than his opponent is laughable,” wrote another. I hope Correia rises above his supporters’ us-vs.-them rhetoric.
Sam Sutter has served the public for nearly a decade now, first as Bristol County District Attorney, where he made national headlines for speaking out on global warming, and then as mayor. I hope we haven’t seen the last of him.
Considering how many good things are happening in Fall River right now – an Amazon distribution center bringing 1,000 jobs to the city, plans to revamp the New Harbour Mall, and a dazzling opening-up of the riverfront as part of Route 79 reconstruction – voters are taking a huge gamble by dumping a steady steward for an up-and-comer. I hope the progress continues.