Supporters of Holyoke schools project outraised, outspent ‘no’ campaign

  • A rendering by Jones Whitsett Architects of the two proposed middle schools in Holyoke that voters rejected funding at the ballot box on Nov. 5. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Staff Writer
Published: 11/13/2019 11:52:54 PM

HOLYOKE — Leading up to the Nov. 5 vote on a Proposition 2½ debt-exclusion override to build two new middle schools, the campaign in favor of the project significantly outraised and outspent the campaign opposed to the ballot question.

The “yes” campaign “Yes to Invest” raised $12,537 and $4,320 in in-kind contributions during the reporting period from Aug. 21 to Oct. 18, according to its campaign finance report. The “no” campaign “Keep Holyoke Affordable for All” raised $4,385 and $2,906 in in-kind contributions during the same period, its report shows.

During the reporting period, “Yes to Invest” spent $6,407 compared to the $2,323 spent by “Keep Holyoke Affordable for All.”

Voters rejected the ballot question by 4,872 to 2,694 votes. The project, totaling approximately $130 million, was set to receive $75.8 million from the Massachusetts School Building Authority, or MSBA, with the city to cover the remaining $54 million through a debt-exclusion override.

The campaign finance reports do not include any money raised or spent after Oct. 18. Year-end reports, which will detail the money campaigns raised and spent in the final weeks before the election, must be filed by Jan. 21.

The biggest donors to the “yes” campaign were: Scott DeFelice, the CEO of the company Oxford Performance Materials, who gave $3,000; Tony Witman, the owner of the local property management company Witman Properties, who contributed $2,500; Sandra Ward, a retired resident, who gave $600; and Marcos Marrero, the city’s director of planning and economic development, who chipped in $500.

The Committee to Elect Alex Morse also kicked in $1,000 to the “Yes to Invest” campaign.

The biggest donations to the “no” campaign were $2,000 from Holyoke resident Steven Kravetz, $500 from New England Etching Co., $400 from City Councilor Linda Vacon and $250 from the election committee of former City Council president Kevin Jourdain.

The Western Mass. Republican PAC also contributed $200 to the “Keep Holyoke Affordable for All” campaign.

Both campaigns also received significant in-kind contributions.

On the “no” side, $2,500 of the campaign’s $2,906 in-kind contributions came from The Pyramid Companies — the management group that operates the Holyoke Mall. That contribution shows up as “printing and mailing by Dan Allie” on the campaign’s report.

Of the $4,320 of in-kind contributions the “yes” campaign received, $3,600 came from the use of the home of School Committee member Erin Brunelle as campaign headquarters.


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