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Coogan ousts long standing Fall River Housing Authority member Sahady after 26 years



The newly inaugurated members of the Fall River City Council held their first meeting Tuesday night and got right down to business, voting to approve Mayor Paul Coogan’s request to have his cousin and former Fall River City Councilor Stephen Long appointed to the Fall River Housing Authority. Long will be replacing Mary Sahady who has served on the Housing Authority for 26 years.

The council, with newly elected Cliff Ponte, Jr and Paul Hart joining the returning members, voted 7-1 to approve the appointment of Long. City Councilor Michelle Dionne was not in attendance and City Council President Joe Camara voted against the appointment.

“I won’t be supporting this today because I have too much respect for Mary Sahady and what she’s done and what she has accomplished on the Housing Authority” said Camara.

Camara addressed the council and said that it was his understanding Sahady did not resign and that she wanted to continue to serve on the Housing Authority. The city council President assured the committee that his decision to vote no had nothing to do with Long himself and shook Long’s hand after the vote.

Fall River City Council President Joseph Camara shakes hands with Stephen Long after a vote to approve Mayor Coogan’s appointment of Long to the Housing Authority. Camara was the only councilor to vote against the appointment. Photo: Fall River Reporter

“Too many times we ask people to serve, they serve and do a good job and once there’s a disagreement with an administration and they clash, that person is no longer needed.”

Speaking with Fall River Reporter after the meeting, Camara said voting no “felt like the right thing to do.”

The vote came after returning city councilor Cliff Ponte Jr asked City Administrator Seth Aitken for clarification on the appointment and if Long being Coogan’s cousin was an ethics violation.

“There’s no hesitation or shyness that the person up for this appointment is cousins with the Mayor and I just wanted to make sure there are no state ethics issues when it comes to this,” said Ponte.

Aitken elaborated on the appointment and stated with confidence that there was no violation. Both Coogan and Long filed a disclosure with the State Ethics Commission, which is required under the law.

“I can say categorically, unequivocally that the Ethics Commission is aware of all of the circumstances surrounding this appointment, that there is no ethical problem with this appointment and all of the necessary disclosures have been made” stated Aitken.

Members of the Fall River City Council congratulate Stephen Long on his appointment to the Housing Authority.

Sahady’s term expired six months ago and despite no formal appointment by the Mayor, agreed to stay on the Housing Authority. It was unclear why the term was not filled when it expired and when asked after the meeting why it was not filled, Ponte said he did not know.

“That’s a great question.”

After the vote, we spoke with Stephen Long and asked him about the comments made by President Camara and his subsequent vote against his appointment.

“I have no problem with it. I’ve known Mary for many years and she’s a great person. The Mayor called me and asked me to serve on the Housing Authority and I said I would. I’m happy to be back serving the city, my city, again.”

When asked how he feels taking the seat despite Sahady not resigning and purportedly wanting to remain a Housing Authority member, Long said he would most likely reach out to Sahady after his first meeting for advice.

“I will probably call her when this is all done.”

We asked Long if he had reached out to Sahady before his appointment, Long said he did not.

“I didn’t think it would be appropriate.”

Long’s appointed term is for five years. The Housing Authority had a meeting Monday evening and Long says he is unsure when the next meeting is, although he said it is sometime next month.

Primary correspondent for the Greater Fall River area, Jess focuses on human interest stories and investigations into political corruption. She is a former fill-in host and digital contributor at The Howie Carr Show, former host of The Jessica Machado Show and SouthCoast Tonight on WBSM in New Bedford, former blogger at The Herald News and a former fill-in host at WSAR in Fall River.



  1. RedPilled

    January 10, 2024 at 9:51 am

    You want a great paying job working for the city. Just remember it’s not what you know it’s who you know. That goes for all departments. Different faces same politics.

  2. Debra Machado

    January 10, 2024 at 8:29 pm

    Mayor Coogan thinks the rules don’t apply to him. He gets what he wants because all the other committee’s, like the Ethics committee, look the other way .they all do what they want. It’s a coincidence that this subject has to do with housing. Paul Coogan has not helped or used the ARPA money for housing and not a cent for the homeless. He only shows up for photo opps.while others volunteerto help.Churches,foods donated by private citizens and caring committee’s volunteer their time also. The Tamao center has nothing. Except for putting up new luxury apartments that no one can afford.
    We need a new Mayor, with morals and Coogan is NOT the guy

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