City Charter Provisions Create Problems As New Municipal Election Cycle Begins

Fall River’s General Election Cycle officially kicks off today as it serves to be the first day for potential contenders for mayor, school committee and city council secure nomination packets for the possible September Preliminary Elections.


Two residents made the trip to Government Center sixth floor as soon as the day started. One of those residents is community activist Colin Dias while the other is an R.D.A Board Member - Michelle Dion.


Dion along with Dias were the first two to get their signature sheets and begin the gathering of 150 names of certified voters.


Dion, as a member of the R.D.A told WSAR News she would step down from her post if she is elected to one of the nine city council seats in the Fall.


“I am not going to cause any arguments,” she explained. “If elected, I will step down.”


She contends, however, since her seat is an appointed one by Governor Charlie Baker she can hold both positions because, “it is not governed by ordinances,” explained Dion.


“I don’t believe the R.D.A is (governed by the City Charter),” she told WSAR. “Also, because I hold the state seat, I was not put there by the mayor.”


Another challenge that will be fought leading up to this Fall’s election will be the battle between Fall River Fire Lieutenant Joshua Hetzler and the provisions in the city charter.


Hetzler wants to challenge the language that disallows city employees from holding an elected official position so he can run for reelection during this upcoming municipal election cycle.


The fire lieutenant already was elected into his position when voters approved the new charter back in 2017 grandfathering him into his position until the next cycle - which has now come. Corporation Counsel Joseph Macy ruled the new version was not in force while Hetzler held office and that decision would have to be made when the time comes.


Well that time is now and Hetzler joined Marc Dion on The Marc Dion Show this morning on WSAR to bring awareness to his current situation.  


“I have to challenge the charter in the courts,” Hetzler told Dion. “I’m not exactly sure which court. I’m not a lawyer so I don’t know what the best approach would be. I have talked to a few lawyers. One feels we can handle it here in the state, while another things we should take it to the federal level.”


Hetzler would like this decision to be made before the September preliminary election.


“It would be good for the voters,” he explained. “I think it’s the best course of action for myself, as well. If that doesn’t work for me, the other avenue to take is to get elected and explain my situation to the people - let them make a decision to elect me and see where it goes. At that point, someone else will have to challenge it.”


“Here I am willing to be apart of local government right now, please let me serve,”  Hetzler pleaded. “But this (charter) language stops me.”