Sixth candidate emerges in Holyoke mayor’s race

  • Gloria Caballero Roca has announced her candidacy for mayor of Holyoke. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 4/30/2021 2:35:48 PM

HOLYOKE — Another candidate has entered the race to become Holyoke’s next mayor.

Gloria Caballero Roca, a 55-year-old academic and educator, announced her candidacy on Friday. A Holyoker for more than 20 years, the Whiting Avenue resident said that as an Afro-Cuban she is excited to be the only Latina to have announced their candidacy for the position.

“Holyoke is ready for a change,” she said. “I’m so excited. I think I could be a wonderful person who would like to involve people in policy making. I would love to see this happen.”

Born in Cuba, Caballero Roca said she became a single mother at 19, working her way through college “with my baby in one hand and my books in the other.” She said she grew up in a working-class family, one of four siblings raised by a single mother in a former hotel-turned-apartment complex in Old Havana.

Caballero Roca came to the United States in 1997, originally moving to Brookline but soon after arriving in western Massachusetts to earn her master’s degree, and then doctorate, in Spanish and Portuguese Studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is bilingual in English and Spanish, and this month will defend another dissertation — focused on race and representation in Cuban visual arts — for a second doctorate degree from the University of Oviedo in Asturias, Spain.

“I’m just someone who likes learning and getting people together to talk,” Caballero Roca said. “I’m a teacher, I’m a humanist, I’m not a politician … There is another choice here that can bring us together.”

Caballero Roca has been active in organizations like Massachusetts Peace Action. She is currently unemployed, having left a teaching job at The MacDuffie School in 2019 to finish her doctorate, according to the school’s newspaper.

Holyoke holds a special place in her heart, Caballero Roca said, and she is thrilled about the possibility of becoming the city’s next mayor.

“Holyoke was always my hometown, and I’ve seen it go up and down,” she said. “Holyoke’s a beautiful body, and this body needs all of its organs — which are all of its wards.”

Caballero Roca joins a growing field of candidates looking to succeed former mayor Alex Morse, who departed from the position in March to become the town administrator of Provincetown.

Others who have officially entered the race are: Joshua Garcia, the current town administrator in Blandford; School Committee member Devin Sheehan; at-large city councilors Michael Sullivan and Rebecca Lisi; and William “Billy” Glidden, previously an aide to Morse. One more resident, Christopher Kosinksi, has pulled papers for a possible run.

The city will hold a preliminary election on Sept. 21 and a general election on Nov. 2.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.

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