Leo Choquette won the Ward 1 City Council election on Tuesday, ousting three-term incumbent Brad Markey.

Choquette received 53% of the vote, while Markey received 47%. The margin was 114 votes. This was the second time the two candidates had faced off for the Ward 1 seat — Markey beat Choquette by just 44 votes in 2021. 

“They decided that they wanted some change and we’re gonna give them some change,” said Choquette, 48, a financial adviser and member of the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The councilor-elect said his first priorities will be to open a constituent services office in the North End and return the many calls he had received from future constituents. His campaign signs had the slogan, “Ready to answer your CALL!” As of Monday, his voicemail box was full.

Choquette appeared surprised by his victory at City Hall on Tuesday night, asking to see the vote counts again after answering reporters’ questions.

Markey shook hands with Choquette on his way out. While he was aiming for four terms, he was happy with three, he said.

“This is the nature of the game,” Markey said. “A lot of these wards, they have a shelf life to them.”

What’s next for Markey? At 65, he’s just reached retirement age, he said, so “probably nothing.”

Normandin Middle School, site of the Ward 1 polling location. Credit: Eleonora Bianchi / The New Bedford Light

Some voters who picked Choquette said they were impressed by his door-to-door canvassing.

“I’ve actually never seen any candidates ever do that,” said Tania Gomes, who voted for Choquette at Normandin Middle School with her four-month-old baby, Levi. “I just thought that showed a lot about his character.”

Susan Pereira said Choquette stood on her porch for two hours talking with her about taxes, traffic, and the waste processing facility that Parallel Products has proposed in the ward. Lucy Medeiros, another voter Choquette visited, said he earned her support by promising to open an office in the ward and hold neighborhood meetings. Both Pereira and Medeiros said they have called Markey about neighborhood issues in the past but never heard back.

Other Choquette voters couldn’t identify any particular issue or quality about the candidates that motivated them — they voted for the challenger because they just wanted a change. They said they’re sick of seeing the same faces on the City Council year after year.

“Not much is getting done,” said Deborah Darudell. “It’s just a bunch of fluff.”

New Bedford Light reporter Adam Goldstein contributed reporting to this story.

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