Holyoke Mayoral Candidates


Patrick Sweeney, News Editor

Soon, there is going to be a change of scenery for residents of Holyoke, Massachusetts. Alex Morse has been the mayor of Holyoke for four terms up to this point. He was elected for the first time in 2012 and has not looked back since. However, there have been some complications surrounding his current term in office. Morse was involved in an investigation with UMass Amherst when he once taught there. Morse also decided to run for Congress last year. He went up against Richard Neal, who won the election. All of these factors combined have led to Morse deciding not to run for office again. This opens up a large window of opportunity for politicians who want to kick-start their career as a mayor. In addition to this, people will have the opportunity to make changes in Holyoke so it continues to be a well-functioning city. Two candidates have emerged and have stated they are going to begin campaigning for office. They are Rebecca Lisi and Devin Sheehan, both Holyoke residents. 

Rebecca Lisi is forty-two years old and has been active in the city of Holyoke for many years. She has been on the City Council for fourteen years. Growing up, her parents did not have a lot of money. She became the first person in her entire family to attend college when she went to Binghamton University. She majored in biology and got her degree in that subject. She worked for a non-profit organization called Clean Water Action. In her announcement speech, obtained by 22 News, she stated that “she learned the value of shoe leather” while working for this company. As part of her job, she walked around communities and knocked on doors, giving people information about politics. Much of this information was new to people and they were excited for the opportunity to learn more. Shortly after moving to Massachusetts, she and her husband, Damian, moved to Holyoke. She stated that the transition was difficult because she “didn’t have much besides Damian. No friends, no extensive family connections… “ Lisi was not sure how to continue her career. She felt that she was “outgrowing her role” as part of the nonprofit. She wanted to do something locally. She took notice when there was an opening on the Holyoke City Council and decided to go for the job. Lisi used her skills that she had learned while working for the nonprofit. Once again, she went around knocking on doors to campaign. After working on the Council for many years, she has now decided to run for mayor. She has many plans in mind if she is elected mayor. She states that her “priority will be helping our city build bridges that connect us.” She also cited maintaining the historic buildings as part of her plan and wants to “connect” the residents of the city. 

Devin Sheehan is thirty-eight years old. He has also been active in the Holyoke community for a number of years. He has been a member of the School Committee for twelve years. He is also “a recent president of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees and Holyoke Parade Committee,” according to an article by gazettenet.com. Sheehan went to school here in Holyoke and graduated from Holyoke High School. He now works in the Springfield Public School system. Sheehan stated by phone that he wants to “work for the city” and help people “get back on their feet.” He cited the impact of the coronavirus on the city. Sheehan’s skills will help the city. He has stated that he is a “leader who brings people together.” Sheehan has been floating some ideas around about what he plans to do if elected mayor. He has stated that he supports the Student Opportunity Act, which is “a $1.5 billion education funding bill,” which was started by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker two years ago. Sheehan has been very clear about his plans for the school system in Holyoke. One of his goals is to try and achieve “local control” of the schools instead of continuing to have them run by the state. This is a glimmer of hope for many people who are upset about Holyoke Public Schools being controlled by the state. Sheehan has also shown his support for the building of two middle schools in Holyoke, which was once a bill that did not pass in November 2019. Overall, Sheehan has many plans that would help the city come back from the coronavirus that has rocked it. 

Lisi and Sheehan are two very different mayoral candidates. However, they do share some common ground. They both want to help the city overcome the effects of the coronavirus, which has affected so many people. They both want the city to get “back on track.” They have detailed plans that they want to put into effect once one of them becomes mayor. Many residents of Holyoke may fear a mayoral change. Some people have gotten used to Mayor Morse and his policies. However, this is a time for all residents of Holyoke to come together and aspire to become a community with united goals. We should accept the leadership of our next mayor and respect them and their ideas. As John C. Maxwell once said, “The truth is that teamwork is at the heart of great achievement.”