Murphy named Holyoke’s acting mayor

  • GAZETTE FILE PHOTO GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • Holyoke At-large City Councilor Peter Tallman attends the first meeting of the new year, Jan. 6, 2020. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 4/12/2021 8:02:06 PM

HOLYOKE — The city has a new mayor — for the next seven months, anyway.

In a special meeting Monday, the City Council voted to name Ward 2 Councilor Terence Murphy acting mayor, a role he will fill until a new mayor is elected in November.

Murphy takes over for City Council President Todd McGee, who has been acting mayor since Alex Morse stepped down March 26 to become town manager in Provincetown.

McGee said he could only serve as acting mayor on a temporary basis because of a potential conflict of interest with his employer, MassMutual.

“I’m humbled and I’m appreciative of your confidence that I can do the job,” Murphy said after winning the vote over the other candidate, At-large Councilor Peter Tallman. “My heart is in Holyoke, my goal is to make Holyoke the best place it can be for each and every person, each and every day.”

Murphy received the votes of eight councilors: McGee, Ward 3’s David Bartley, Ward 5’s Linda Vacon, at-large councilors Howard Greaney, James Leahy, Joseph McGiverin, Michael Sullivan, and himself. The remaining five councilors voted for Tallman.

“I’m 100% behind you,” Tallman told Murphy after the council’s vote. “You’re very knowledgeable. I’m sure you’ll do a great job for the city.”

Speaking after the meeting, Murphy said he already has meetings scheduled with department heads and intends to get to work immediately preparing a fiscal 2022 operating budget.

“I’ve got to make sure the city gets to be as united of a community as possible,” he said. “We’re going to have disagreements, but we’ve got to have respect.”

Murphy said he plans to meet with Police Chief Manny Febo in order to find a way to address recent issues that have come up between the department and council — reducing high overtime pay in the department, for example.

Other plans Murphy put forward include the idea of bonding to more quickly tear down vacant, condemned buildings in the city. He said he wants to work with the Housing Authority on the South Holyoke Homes housing and homeownership project, with landlords in neighborhoods like Churchill to improve air quality in their buildings, and with the business community to address challenges they’ve faced during the pandemic.

“I want to make sure that when I’m through, whoever becomes mayor is coming into a stable, confident city government that has made a difference in improving the quality of life for each and every one of our residents,” Murphy said.

Murphy comes into City Hall as several candidates, including two of his fellow councilors, campaign to become mayor in November. At-large Councilor Rebecca Lisi and At-large School Committee member Devin Sheehan have announced their candidacies, and At-large Councilor Michael Sullivan has all but officially declared his candidacy.

Two other city residents — Gloria Caballero Roca and Christopher Kosinksi — have pulled papers to run for office, according to the city clerk’s office.

Monday’s vote came after the Legislature passed, and Gov. Charlie Baker signed, a home rule petition that allowed the City Council to choose any of its members to replace McGee as acting mayor instead of going through with a costly special election to fill the mayor’s office.

The home rule petition will allow whoever is elected as mayor on Nov. 2 to take over the corner office as soon as those election results are certified.

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


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