Sullivan’s fundraising ahead of mayoral field in Holyoke

  • Holyoke City Hall GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 7/13/2021 7:18:49 PM

HOLYOKE — Campaign cash is pouring into Holyoke, where eight candidates are jockeying to become the city’s next mayor in a wide-open election.

In total, Holyoke mayoral candidates have raked in $152,311 since the start of the year, according to figures from the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance. Most of that money comes from political donations during that time period, though some candidates have transferred sums of money from their previous campaigns.

At the top of that list is At-large City Councilor Michael Sullivan, who between Jan. 1 and June 30 raised $55,278, of which $20,000 came from his previous campaign account. Fellow At-large Councilor Rebecca Lisi raised $31,986 in the same time period, $7,916 of which came from her previous election fundraising. William Glidden, a writer and former aide to previous mayor Alex Morse, pulled in $31,929, all of which was raised since Feb. 5.

School Committee member Devin Sheehan raised $22,814, of which $8,044 came from a previous account. After a late entry into the race, Joshua Garcia — the town administrator in Blandford — has raised $7,710 since April 29. The same is true for Gloria Caballero Roca, an academic and educator, who has raised $2,594 since April 30.

Two other candidates have not yet raised any funds, according to the state campaign finance reports: longtime former city councilor Diosdado Lopez, who has pulled nomination papers and announced his candidacy, and city resident Christopher Kosinksi, who has submitted nomination papers with enough signatures to be on the preliminary election ballot on Sept. 21 but does not appear to have announced a campaign yet.

Local donors

Excluding any money transferred from previous campaign accounts, since Jan. 1 Sullivan has raised the most money from those with Holyoke addresses — $15,940, representing 45.2% of the money he has raised this election cycle. Lisi raised $12,124 from Holyoke residents this election cycle, or 50.4% of her campaign donations, the highest percentage of any candidate.

Glidden raised 17.5% of his campaign donations from city residents, Sheehan 32.7%, Garcia 31.4%, and Caballero Roca 42.6% of donations from supporters in Holyoke.

Of those donating to Sullivan’s campaign, retirees and business owners donated the most — $6,700 from each category. Those listed as “partners” in companies gave another $1,500. Attorneys gave $1,850 combined, developers $2,200 and office managers $1,500.

Individual donors can give a maximum of $1,000 per year to a candidate.

Holyokers who gave the maximum $1,000 to Sullivan were: real estate developer Anthony Witman; Ralph Thompson, owner of Russell-Zuhl furniture store; Glenn and Marilyn Shealey, a developer and attorney respectively; Steven Grande, the owner of Meridian Industrial Group; retiree William Labelle; and Springfield school teacher Gregory Scyocurka. Others who gave maximum donations include David Kwasnik, owner of the Maryland-based PowerComm Construction Inc., and Alice DeGennaro, a partner in Cambridge business Longleaf Lumber.

Sullivan has also received donations from some prominent city officials, such as $800 from Police Sgt. Andrew DiNapoli, $600 from Ward 5 City Councilor and former Republican state House candidate Linda Vacon, $500 from former City Council president and former Republican National Convention delegate Kevin Jourdain, and $225 from Ward 3 Councilor David Bartley.

Sullivan’s political benefactors have tended to give in larger amounts. He has received 14 donations of $1,000, the highest number of maximum contributors of any of the candidates. He also received 20 donations of $500, 10 donations of $250 and 14 donations of $200.

Cannabis contributions

Some of Lisi’s top donors come from the city’s marijuana industry, which has established a large presence in Holyoke in recent years. Those who gave $1,000 include: John Toro and Justin Pagan, co-owners of the cannabis cultivation, manufacturing and retail business Budda Brothers; and Karen Talton, the CEO of Exotica Farms, which has applied for manufacturing and cultivation licenses.

Other Holyoke cannabis industry donors include: $500 from Helen Gomez Andrews, the CEO of retailer, cultivator and manufacturer The High End; $200 from Andrew Arens, an executive at cultivator, manufacturer and retailer Solurge; and $100 from Erik Williams, the COO of retailer Canna Provisions.

Lisi also received $250 from Holyoke businessman Eric Suher, $500 from attorney Charles Emma, who does work for the city’s law office, and $100 from fellow city councilors Gladys Lebron-Martinez and Libby Hernandez.

Lisi has managed to pull in both large and small donations. She had seven people give the maximum $1,000, six give $500 and 16 give $250. She also received 47 donations of $100, 45 donations of $50 and 59 donations of $25.

Far-flung support

Glidden’s top donors come from across the country. Some include: $1,000 from Michael Luciani, the Washington D.C.-based CEO of the digital campaign firm The Tuesday Company and former Hillary Clinton campaign staffer in Michigan; $970 from International Monetary Fund staffer Nate Vernon of North Carolina; $500 from New York City lawyer Henry Bergman; $500 from the Wisconsin-based writer Grant Moran; and $500 from Frank Pagliaro, of Northampton, who is a senior associate at the computational chemistry and materials science firm Schrödinger.

Glidden has pulled in a large amount of smaller donations. He received 42 donations of $25, 42 donations of $50, 83 donations of $100, 33 donations of $250 — one of which was from previous Holyoke mayor Alex Morse — and 10 donations of $500.

Sheehan has received a large number of donations from schoolteachers, staff and administrators from across the region, mostly in smaller amounts. He received $2,010 from school and college administrators, and $2,595 from teachers, educators, school committee members and other school staffers. He has also received a $1,000 contribution from At-large Springfield City Councilor Justin Hurst and $30 from state Rep. Jacob Oliveira, D-Ludlow.

Garcia has raised $1,000 donations from several contributors: Beatriz Bedoya, a Connecticut schoolteacher; Anthony Diaz, a Connecticut-based owner/operator at Key Food Stores Co-op; and Ralph Strom, the manager of C&C Auto Solutions in Holyoke.

Other top contributors to Garcia’s campaign include: $600 from Springfield sales agent Waynie Collado; $550 from Frankie Cardona, the owner of Holyoke’s Hair Hunterz Barbershop; $500 from Jesse Castellano of Holyoke’s Castellano Home Improvement; and $450 from Lianexis Collazo, a retired home care coordinator from Holyoke.

Caballero Roca has collected mostly small donations: $250 from Holyoke mental health therapist Rebecca Downing; $250 from Easthampton app developer Carole Oyler; $205 from Smith College professor Nathanael Fortune; and $200 from Smith instructor Joyce Palmer-Fortune. She has also put $400 toward her own campaign.

Glidden had the most total donors with 228, followed by Lisi with 187, Sheehan with 132, Sullivan with 101, Caballero Roca with 32 and Garcia with 30.

This story has been updated to correct the name and title of Erik Williams. He is the COO of cannabis retailer Canna Provisions.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at


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