NEW BEDFORD — Voters in Ward 6 ousted the president of the City Council Tuesday, as Ryan Pereira, a newcomer to city politics, handily defeated six-term incumbent Councilor Joe Lopes.

Pereira, the son of a well-known businessman in the ward and running with the blessing of popular former Ward 6 Councilor Victor Pinheiro, polled 56% of the vote to Lopes’ 44%.

Turnout in the city’s first election without a mayor’s race on the ballot was a paltry 10.8%.

In the other closely contested ward race, two-term incumbent Brad Markey hung on for a narrow victory over attorney Leo Choquette. He took 51 percent of the vote to Choquette’s 48%.

In the at-large City Council race, Shane Burgo, another young candidate who few would have predicted as the winner at the beginning of the campaign, took the open seat, finishing fifth with 9% of the vote.

YouTube video
New Bedford Election Commissioner Manny DeBrito reads the results of the 2021 election, and Ryan Pereira reacts as he unseats incumbent Joseph Lopes.

All four incumbent at-large councilors were re-elected, with Ian Abreu topping the ballot capturing 15.7% of the vote. Brian Gomes, who had dropped to fifth two years ago, returned to second place with a showing of 12.8%; Linda Morad was third with 11.8%; and Naomi Carney finished fourth with 11.12%. Burgo narrowly edged Paul Chasse, who also finished in sixth place two years ago.

In Ward 5, incumbent Scott Lima easily won re-election, with 67% of the vote to Zach Boyer’s 32%.

In Ward 2, 3 and 4, all three incumbents — Maria Giesta, Hugh Dunn and Derek Baptiste — were unopposed and won, although there were 83 write-in votes, or an unusually high 17.5% of the total in Dunn’s race.

ELECTION RESULTS: See the vote totals and percentages for who won and who lost at the polls on Tuesday.
COMING THURSDAY: New Bedford Light columnist Jack Spillane delivers insight and analysis on Tuesday’s municipal elections.

Ross Grace Jr. topped the School Committee ballot, and challenger Melissa Costa finished second. Incumbent Colleen Dawicki was a close third. All three candidates were unopposed.

Kimberly Saunders, a 12-year-incumbent assessor, was elected to another term with 61% of the vote to Erik Andrade’s 38%.

Voting was slow across the city without a mayoral race, but candidates still had some supporters holding signs in key locations.

In the far North End, where Ward 1 incumbent Markey faced a spirited battle from Choquette, the Dottin Place polling place was sleepy just before 5 p.m. One poll worker disinfected a booth while the other checked in a lone voter with the trademark ruler and red pen.

Four sign-holders stood out front, some taking cover in a bus shelter to avoid a brief rainfall, but only one held a sign for a Ward 1 candidate.

Just around the corner at Campbell Elementary, where Wards 1B and 1C vote, more than a half-dozen supporters lined the sidewalk along Phillips Road, holding signs for Markey and Choquette, as well as at-large candidate Paul Chasse, while waving at passing cars.

Brendan Kurie contributed to this report. Email Brendan Kurie at Email Jack Spillane at

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