The following is a rough transcript of the leaked audio from Mayor Jasiel Correia's campaign meeting Sept. 25. The focus is largely on Correia's words to his supporters at the closed-door meeting, though comments from some in the crowd are included. Ellipsis indicate words that were unintelligible. Transcriber's notes are italicized.
Jasiel Correia: “Thank you for coming out tonight, I appreciate it. Thanks for inviting me tonight for a couple updates. Some good news and, as always, to talk to you all directly. First and foremost, we’re winners. All the faces in this room. If you’ve all been with me and my family on this crazy road of running the City of Fall River for three-and-a-half-plus years now. It’s all the same faces. A few have dropped off but its still the same people. I really, really, humbly, can’t thank you enough. You all have been so incredible. It’s so amazing. Sometimes I think about this, how people can just come together to give up Saturday mornings and weekend nights and day nights and hold signs and go to fundraisers and have fundraisers and call on the radio and stay on social media all night. ... It’s overwhelming, the love and support you’ve all shown me over the last three-and-a-half years. Especially my family. This is not an easy job. We took on so many very big battles. Battles other mayors would not take on. I really believe, I really believe, you’re going to hear me saying this for the next couple weeks, I really believe that there is a group of people that want to regain control of the city so bad that they have gone to any length possible and I will, eventually through trial, show that. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about tonight. What I’m here to talk about tonight is, number one, thanks to all of you for your support, your love, your prayers, because these are very difficult times. ... Second, please no phones. I know my dad is recording over there and that’s fine, but everyone else, this is really important stuff we’re going to talk about. I don’t want it to get out. I also didn’t want people to find out another way. I wanted you to hear it from me. It’s very important ... We probably have Jo Goode on the other side. ...
“There are a couple things I want to talk about. Please, please keep it between us over the next couple weeks to respect other people that are involved. I started off by saying we’re winners. Why? Because we have won. This group right here, this team, has won. We won three times. We won an impossible election. I was 23 years old against a seasoned politician. A former district attorney. A guy that, with all the experience in the world, with all the teams and all the committees, couldn’t get the job done. Simple as that. We all know that. Then we won again against a longtime city councilor [NAME] who wanted to control the city and wanted to keep the old way of doing business in Fall River alive and well. And then, when everybody thought we’d be defeated in the recall election, we pulled it off again. We pulled it off because a few reasons. Number one, we had time. We had time from the first private business, SnoOwl, indictment, to the election. We had a lot of time. We had from October to March. So I had a lot of time to tell the voters why this is a bunch of nonsense and why they should vote on my record and not on accusations. And this preliminary election did not have that luxury of time. I had 11 days and the only debate that I could explain myself in was the day before it happened. And we still won.”
Man in crowd: And we still won.
Correia: “And we still won. And what I’m trying to say is, this was a very coordinated effort that was orchestrated. So that makes it very challenging. So when you’re not in a fair fight, and this is not a fair fight, it’s not a fair race, you need to run an un-traditional campaign. That’s what this comes down to. You cannot run a traditional campaign when we’re in an un-traditional election. And I’ll tell you, it would be very easy, very easy, for me to just give in to the City Council. Besides Steve Camara, who is here tonight. Give him a round of applause.
“I consider Steve a friend, besides the fact that we are colleagues in government. I consider him a friend and I really appreciate that and I really believe, I don’t just believe, I know, that when he says what he’s saying, it’s not because of Jasiel or him. It’s because that’s what he believes. That’s what he’s fighting for. He believes that these things should be decided at the ballot box, not by the council. That certain companies shouldn’t be limited in the City of Fall River and all the other stances that he takes, we don’t agree every single time, but we have respect. And we are friends as well. Besides that, he’s a good councilor. He’s a very good city councilor. He has the best interests of the city at heart and in mind. But because we’re not in a fair race, we’re not in a fair fight, and the way I can describe it is, if you’re running a race, let’s say you’re doing a hundred meter, and somebody takes the shotgun and uses to start the race, in this case, they shot my foot and said go finish the race. That’s not easy to do. That’s not easy to do. Not that it can’t be done. It’s just that it’s not easy to do. And I would be not myself if I knew that I could go into a November election with all the same set of rules ... all the same circumstances, and think we can win big. We can’t. And that’s a reality. We can’t under the circumstances. So we have to run an un-traditional campaign. And that un-traditional campaign means that Fall River has to, not Jasiel, but that Fall River has to win. And that’s what we’ve all cared about. ... We’re friends, we’re family. But Fall River is bigger than Jasiel Correia. You all know that. That’s also why I’m in a very difficult position. Because Paul Coogan is not from Fall River. And that’s a reality. And I’m going to explain why.
“Does anyone here know what a ‘Manchurian candidate’ means?”
Someone in crowd: “brainwashed?”
Correia: “A Manchurian candidate is someone who is a sleeper candidate and is in a race to win a race, but then does everything that someone tells them to do. They aren’t honest. That’s what Paul Coogan is. He is, in no other words, a puppet. And I can’t allow that to happen. And I won’t allow it to happen. I won’t back down. Like I was saying before, it would be very easy for me to accept (City Council President) Cliff Ponte’s deal. Sit at home and collect a paycheck on your tax dollars, but that’s just not what I’m going to do. It’s not right. It’s not fair, and it’s not the right thing to do. What they’re trying to do in court is not legal. ... That’s not going to happen. That’s number one. I will fight the city council lawsuit and we will win because they cannot legally remove the mayor when they please. … We’re going to fight that fight in court and we’re going to win that fight.
“The second fight is very important and is the election. So that fight, we will win. But we may not win in a traditional way. So you’re going to see, I think, some really interesting stuff happen. You’ll see some interesting stuff come out in debates, I think you’ll see some interesting stuff come out in public about what’s going on behind the scenes. But it’s very important I tell you here tonight, and it is very very important, that I say this, and I thought a lot about it, but I need to release all of you from holding signs, and that’s all I’ll say. I need to release you from holding signs because what does it mean to hold a sign for a candidate? It means a lot. It seems like a small action but it’s not. You’re holding a sign, you’re giving up your Saturday morning on a street corner, and waving to people is a really big commitment. And I know people think it’s just a small action, but it’s not. It is the foundation of a campaign. It is the single most vulnerable act you could probably do as a supporter of mine. It really is. You’re putting yourself out there, you’re giving up your time to hold a sign, to wave to the people, and we’re a very strong team and have always been a strong team, but I can’t allow people to get harassed, threatened. Family members getting threatened. I can’t allow that. That’s not right. That’s not the right thing to do. So that’s the second announcement.”
“I’m releasing everyone here from any obligation at all that you have to the campaign or to the holding of signs or anything of that nature… Don’t feel obligated that you have to. I really needed to tell you that and need you to know that because I love you all so much, I really do. And it’s not right, it wouldn’t be fair, it wouldn’t be me, if I said ‘let’s just keep doing what we’re doing as we’ve done it, knowing that we can’t win the same way.’ Does that make sense?”
Woman: "So what if we want to?"
Correia: “I appreciate that, but at this time it’s not the way we’re going to win. Holding a sign at this point in the race is not how we’re going to win. So now, to the third point.”
Someone in crowd: "I hope it’s something good."
Correia: “When you are in a battle that you have a disadvantage in, you have a couple options. You can give up or you can change the circumstances to try and figure out alternative outcomes. Right now, there’s only one outcome. Mono a mono, one on one, we don’t win. And everything that we’ve done, all the things we’ve done at city hall, will all be for nothing. So I need your help still to win, but in an untraditional way. So what does that mean? ...
"My name will remain on the ballot, as will Paul Coogan’s. I believe there will be possibly one, possibly two, maybe three, who knows, write-in candidates that will emerge. Those people should be considered. I’m going to tell you right now, they should be considered. They should be on your priority list to help them if you so choose, to vote for them if you so choose, because they should really be considered. It’s one person of three people and they should be considered. But why is that important? It’s important because, and this is very important, and we need to stay quiet so we don’t run out of here and tell people the strategy, it’s important because it makes this a multi-person race. OK? And I think everybody can read in between the lines. We make it a multi-person race like the recall. It also will turn that campaign on its side. Because right now, they’re riding high, they’re already making appointments. Bill Kenny is coming back. FROED is getting $430K from CDA. Ken Fiola isn’t coming in the building, he’s getting money at Cherry & Webb. Those are the things they’re already talking about. And I’ll tell you some personal stories. Someone from Coogan campaign spoke to city hall employee. They told a city hall employee that you better make up with certain people because if you don’t, you’re gone.”
Someone in crowd: "What?"
Correia: “I don’t want to say names, but you better make up with certain people because if you don’t, you’re gone. And the funding that that person controls, they’re already promising to certain people.”
Someone in crowd: "He worked for Sam Sutter."
Correia: “He did. ... This is why it’s important. I don’t want to say too much tonight because I think those third-party candidates should be able to have their own announcements, get their own press, et cetera. I’m not part of their campaigns, I’m not running their campaigns. They just called me and asked me if that’s OK. And I would be remiss if I didn’t share that with you because they wanted, not my blessing, they didn’t want my supporters to think they were trying to take me out. So I wanted you to know that from me. I think it’s important we give these people the ability to run a solid campaign because there’s a real chance in that scenario that we all win. When I saw ‘we,’ I don’t mean Jasiel. I mean the city of Fall River because that’s what’s most important. That’s what’s most important.
“I will still be on the ballot, you’re welcome to vote for whomever you like, but there will be other candidates that will announce and be part of the race.”
Someone in crowd: "How many people are you talking about?"
Correia: “One, two. It could be three. I’m not sure.
“I’m not going to say who because it’s not fair to those people. They should have their own announcement. They should be able to recruit their own support. And those people may be you. You may get a call. I didn’t want you to be in an uncomfortable situation if someone called you because you had loyalty to me. Which I can’t thank you guys enough for doing that. But if I don’t have Fall River win, I wouldn’t be the mayor you know that I am. That’s the key here. It’s not about Jasiel Correia winning. It’s about the city winning. And I know people love to say I have an ego, this and that. But this is one of the moments in time that I have to set my ego aside. And I have to set my pride aside. This is about Fall River. So that means I’m still in the race. We still can win.
“It means we don’t have to hold signs and go door-knocking and all that stuff. You don’t have to do that because we’re not running a traditional race. I have probably the most name recognition of any politician in Massachusetts. We don’t need to get our name out. We don’t need to get our name out. Okay? So we don’t have to do that. And I think that’s important. It means that other candidate who are not under indictment can rise to the top and challenge Paul Coogan, who is not good for the city of Fall River. ...
“I think there’s a lot more people, especially in wards 1, 2, and 3, who went to the ballot 11 days after a second indictment, who said ‘I don’t have any other choice but to vote for Coogan.’ They’re not happy to vote for Coogan but they just had to vote for Coogan because they couldn’t vote for me. Now they have another option. Now we’re giving people an option to say ‘OK, I can’t vote for Jasiel, I don’t want to vote for Paul. I’ll vote for this other person.’" ...
“Those are the three things I wanted to get together and talk about tonight. So what am I going to do as the mayor? As a candidate? A couple things. One: I don’t know what this business is about Cliff Ponte declaring himself the mayor.
“I’ve shown up every day. I’ve shown up every day, I’ve done my job. I’m going to keep doing my job. I’m going to keep doing my job. Second: I’m going to still be participating in the debates. That’s where I shine. And now it’s going to be a gloves-come-off campaign.
“That means going after him. That means saying ‘Look, you know you’re bringing back Ken Fiola. You know it. You’re a puppet. You know it. You’re going to bring fees and taxes back. That’s what’s going to happen.’ So I’m going to paint that picture. I’m going to paint the picture for people so that if people still can’t vote for me they may at least now have the knowledge to not vote for Coogan. If I just dropped out of this race, I’d be giving a lot of people what they want and that’s it. They won. We have to make sure we do everything we can to see that doesn’t happen.”
Someone in crowd: "I don’t trust it."
Someone in crowd: "I’ll vote for my mayor. I want my mayor."
Correia: “Of course you do. Guys, this is very clear. Do not leave here thinking I’m withdrawing. I’m not withdrawing. I am still a candidate. All I’ve told you tonight is, and I will release a statement to that effect, that I am releasing us from holding signs. That’s it. Why did I describe it as holding signs? Because like I said, that is the most personal thing you can do for a campaign.
“It’s a gamble because if we go one on one, oops.”
At this point, someone suggests write-in candidates could take votes away from Correia.
Woman in crowd: “This is killing me. ... When they talk like that, it’s foolish, because Jasiel ... we want you to be out there no matter what. It’s not fair.”
Correia: “I know there’s a lot of emotions. There are a lot of emotions. And Cathy, I understand that, and I may still be the mayor. This gives us the best shot at still winning. This is the best shot. And why? Because earlier, remember what I said about time, the more time you have, the more time you have to explain something. So the more debates I do, the less spotlight I’m in in terms of the negativity, the more votes I can bring back. ... We go regular campaign from now until November, we will not win. We have to accept that. I’ve had to accept that. That’s the reality. So we now have to give ourselves, as people who love Fall River, the best shot at making sure Fall River wins. Which is either me or someone that’s not Coogan. And guys, I truly would not say this, because it’s very easy. The easy way out today is I resign or I take a leave of absence, and I withdraw from the race. That’s the easiest thing for me to do. The easiest thing. And believe me, a lot of people want me to do that. That’s not the right thing to do.”
Woman Correia identifies as Donna: We know the city is not going to go forward the way you want it to.
Correia: “I agree and that’s why I’m still here fighting. A lot of people have told me, Donna, a lot of people have said, 'Leave the city behind. Give up on the city. Look what it’s done to your life, your finances, your friends, your family.’”
Donna: "Your friends are still here. Your family is still here."
Correia: “Donna, please, I know, I get it. We’re not going to get into a debate here. We’ve got to get this done.”
Correia: “I don’t want to go into too much today. I just want you to leave here knowing this: I have a strategy. OK? I have a strategy. I can’t guarantee a win, but I can tell you I can at least make it so we have the best possible chance of winning. That’s what I’m trying to tell you tonight.”
Someone in crowd: "But if there was one person we could collectively get behind…"
Someone else: "I think he’s trying to tell you you will know."
“I am not going to tell you because that person is their own person.”
Someone in crowd: "You’re going to paint a new picture. We’re all going to help you with a new brush."
Correia: “This is very important. It’s very important because we cannot go backward.
“First and foremost, I know all of you know me and know my family. The allegations and accusations, not even one, not even one is true. Not even one is close to true. Not even one has any factual information. Right? Unfortunately, as I said, I don’t have the time to explain it. Believe me, if I could have a trial tomorrow, I’m ready. I told Kevin a thousand times, 'Let’s go.’ It doesn’t work that way, he says, it goes by scheduling, it goes by judges, it goes by this, it goes by that. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time. So when you don’t have the time, and your back’s against the wall, you have to find other doors. And these are the other doors. The other doors are introducing multiple candidates that are not me so that people who say, ‘I cannot vote for Jasiel,’ have more options than Coogan. That’s what it boils down to. The people that want to vote for me can still vote for me. And if the majority of people look at all the candidates that are still there, say, ‘Hey. Jasiel’s the guy I still want to vote for’ you can still vote for me. And if they say ‘I want to vote for this other person’ and a majority goes to that second person, we still win. So we’ve just given ourselves two opportunities to win. Versus an opportunity that we have right now, which is to lose. Right? Do we want to go into November with the same campaign, knowing we’re going to lose?
“We need to claim a victory today. The victory today is we have added more police officers, firefighters, teamsters. ... We’ve increased our stabilization account, you all know, to over $9 million this October. You know that. We’ve eliminated two fees when other communities couldn’t eliminate any fees, and have added fees. We fixed our roads. Not every single one of them, but we’ll fix them. We got rid of public enemy number one in my mind, Ken Fiola. And he’s fighting, and fighting and fighting tooth and nail to get back in. So we have to say right now, declare victory, because we won. We’ve had an outstanding run. We’ve done unbelievable work as a team. And now we have to see to the next victory, which may not mean Jasiel Correia on November 5. It may mean someone else. Just not Coogan.
“Someone who would keep the same administration. Someone who would have the same values. Someone that would move forward, not backward. That’s what we need. And at the end of the day, that still may not be me, but it may be someone else.
“The strategy is to have these other people take as many votes away from Coogan as possible.”
Someone asks a question about the City Council, which voted 8-1 to remove Correia temporarily from office and are taking the matter to court.
Correia: “That’s on autopilot. ... Unfortunately, you know, this is the problem. So you’ve got these councilors that don’t care if they’re wasting taxpayer dollars because they’re going to say ‘Well, Jasiel should have stepped down so we don’t have to go to court.’ Well, that’s nice. I’ll do what you want, how you want it, when you want it, and that’s how you get it done? No. That’s not how it works. That’s not how it works, OK? We need to give ourselves some breathing room and give ourselves some time to explain things in debate and in publication and radio interviews. Through all that stuff. So I don’t have the media hounding me every single day for only negativity. So if I slip away in the background while someone else takes on the fight and we’re still in the race, we give ourselves the best shot at winning. When I say ‘winning,’ I mean Fall River winning. OK? Is everyone on board for that?
“The write-in candidate will probably announce by next week.”
Someone ask if there’s a deadline.
Correia: “You can write in any time. This write-in person has to be organized. They have to have stickers, they have to have people excited. If I were a write-in candidate, I’d say ‘Hey, when I announce, you’re going to get a sticker in the mail from me at your home. All you have to do if you want to vote for Jasiel and don’t want to vote for Paul Coogan, is to bring that sticker to the polls.’ That’s all I would say.
City Councilor Steven Camara: “I’ve come here to be supportive of Jasiel. I’ve come to appreciate him like the son I’ve never had. So it hurts me to think that Fall River’s Youth of the Year ... is now being turned on by so many. It’s like people turning on their own. Their own family, their own model of excellence. Jasiel did what I did when I was a young man. He went out, he got his education, he did what everyone told us young people to do. What we tell all our young people to do. ‘Go get your education. Come back. Make Fall River a better place.’ I can tell you after having spent decades in politics, in fact, I was 10 years old so I beat you by a few years, when I used to go to John Arruda and Albert Auclaire rallies taken by my godfather who I loved so much, who has passed, and that was my introduction. To see the polish of an Albert Auclaire. He was a funeral director who became stitched perfectly. John Arruda was the rough and tumble guy and John Arruda won. And as a young Portugese-American boy, that was a symbol for me that he ran. But let's get to Fall River politics and why I’m so passionate about Jasiel and so impassionate about Coogan. I grew up in that ward. My dad had a grocery store in that ward. We fed the Coogans and all the other power structure families that come out of that ward. The Driscolls, the O’Neils, so many other names. Good people. Many of them worked for my father and mother in the grocery market. But I know that old politics. That old politics that built the old Durfee High School building, the building that’s now being replaced by the building that Jasiel has led the effort to get built. I know that old crowd. I know what they did to Fall River and so many got away with so much. And that old crowd is not happy that there’s a new boy in town taking things over. So for decades I’ve said, ‘Let’s get our parks fixed.’ Never before have our parks been fixed so well as they have been under Jasiel’s administration. Let’s get some streetscapes. Like, I go to city halls all over New England and they’re beautiful places. I’ll sit out in a café and have coffee or something. He brought that and it wasn’t an absolutely popular position right from the beginning, but it’s the right idea on how you rebuild a city. How you make it a place where people want to come. Today, right now, in fact, I encourage you all to make the intertwined relationships this weekend. There’s something called the FABRIC Festival that’s happening all weekend. It’s a festival that’s international with a Portuguese connection because Michael Benevedes form Portugalia Marketplace is one of the leaders in that effort. It’s going to be on Purchase Street taking advantage of Streetscapes. It’s going to be out at The Narrows. It’s going to be on the Carousel, right. Its going to be in the PAL. It was in today’s newspaper. Actually, it was in yesterday’s newspaper. ... They’re trying to say I’m not from Fall River. If anybody knows me, I would challenge maybe only Earl Gaudette. ... That’s the kind of political motivation. They see me as the last link they want to bury in order to bring back that old guard. And believe me, at my age, I’m ready to look through all of this in the rear view mirror.”
Correia's father speaks.
Correia: “So that’s why we’re going to keep fighting. We’re going to keep fighting in a different way. That’s all this is. And, as I’ve already said, we can’t do it in the traditional way. We’ll give ourselves and the city the best hope we can. S that’s the strategy, that’s the plan. I love every single one of you guys. ... This is just the beginning. We’ve already done so much. People always ask me, ‘How are you doing this? How do you deal with this?’ and I tell people a couple things. Number one: We have done so many good things that nobody can take away. I don’t have a regret. I don’t look back and say, ‘Hey, I should’ve done this. I should’ve done that.’ No. Like my dad said, ‘We can’t control what we can’t control.’ I can’t control if people are going to make deals so they don’t get prosecuted. I can’t control that people are upset they lost $400,000 in funding. I can’t control that, you know, people are going to say what they’re going to say. Today’s a perfect example. People thought I was resigning tonight. People thought I took a plea deal. We have media outside waiting to get in there. It’s amazing. They’re looking through the window right now.”
Someone in crowd: Are you kidding me?
Someone in crowd: Don’t let them in.
Correia: “I can’t control it. I show up to work every day, I do a good job, and I’ve made the city a better place. I can hold my head high knowing I got it done.
“Let’s win on November 5. We have never lost. We never lose. We’re going to win. And the way we win is not Jasiel Correia at the end of the night, it’s Fall River. OK? It' always has been about Fall River and will always be about Fall River. ... Steve said it best. He said, you know, that we tell people to go to college, that we want them to come back, we don’t want them to move away. That’s what I did. My dad tells the story all the time. He built a house in Fall River because at a young age I said I wanted to be the mayor of our city and if we moved to another community, we might not have that chance. That’s a true story. And the crazy thing, guys, and I’ll close with this, let this sink in your mind, it really is a mystery to me how the government, how the prosecutors, can accuse me. All of you know my history. You can go on YouTube and see me when I was 13 working on drug prevention in Fall River. You can see me when I was Youth of the Year in 2008. You can see me when I was on the mayor’s youth council, when I became a city councilor, when I was the most credible person in a certain report that was published by another prosecutor that was appointed by Sam Sutter in another investigation. You all know my story. You’ve met me, you’ve met my family, you’ve seen us. It’s very peculiar to me how the federal prosecutor is going to get away with saying that from 19 years old, when I started my first business, to 27 years old, 19 to 27, everything I’ve done, has been a fraud, has been for personal profit, for personal gain. You all know me. You all know me. That is a very bold statement for them to make about me. That my entire adult life from 19, I couldn’t even drink yet, to 27. A kid that started a business on his own. A kid that became a mayor. A kid that got reelected to mayor. A kid that has changed the city, factually, not fake. Real, true stats. Real, true facts, has just been a total fake. Has been a total façade. Has been a total fraud. That’s what they want people to believe. And that’s why every time the media asks me ‘Oh, how come you haven’t resigned? How come you haven’t done this?’ I tell them, ‘You guys get a very small bit and you promote a headline, then you all go back to Boston and Providence and everywhere in between, and you run your stories, and those people that don’t live in Fall River don’t see that I’ve added more police officers and firefighters and teachers. They don’t see that Ken Fiola did economic development for the few and not the entire city. They don’t see that we’ve added more fire trucks and changed roads and added playgrounds and fixed parks and sidewalks.' People in Providence and Boston don’t see that. What they see is just the headline about the mayor that the media wants to promote. So that’s why on every single day I’m going to walk into Government Center and know I’ve done a good job and keep doing a good job. And at the end of the day, everything’s going to be OK. So, I thank you guys. I love all of you. Let’s win for Fall River.”