Sullivan, Garcia top crowded mayoral preliminary election in Holyoke

  • Ann Ferriter stands in front of Holyoke City Hall and talks about why she is supporting Devin Sheehan for mayor during the preliminary election Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Acting Mayor Terence Murphy talks about voter turnout during the preliminary election in Holyoke on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Stephen Fay stands with others at the Edward Nelson White School in Holyoke during the mayoral preliminary election Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Gloria Caballero Roca, a candidate in the Holyoke mayoral preliminary election, stands with, left, Richard Purcell and middle Juan Sanchez in front of Joseph Metcalf School during the preliminary election in Holyoke Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Devin Sheehan, a candidate in Holyoke’s preliminary mayoral election, stands at the Edward Nelson White School in Holyoke on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Gina Duclos stands with others at the Edward Nelson White School in Holyoke during the mayoral preliminary election Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Marangely Alomar, the warden for Precinct 1B, checks in, left, Grisel Cosme and Victor Dejesus during the mayoral preliminary election on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Left, David Sanchez stands with his daughter, Destiny Sanchez, 6, and Roxanne Roman after voting in the Holyoke mayoral preliminary election on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Terence Murphy, the acting mayor of Holyoke, talks about voter turnout during the preliminary election in Holyoke on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Axel Fontanez stand in front of Joseph Metcalf School with a sign supporting Joshua Garcia while Terry O'Connor holds a sign for Mike Sullivan during the preliminary mayoral election in Holyoke on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Left, David Sanchez stands with his daughter, Destiny Sanchez, 6, and Roxanne Roman after voting in the Holyoke mayoral preliminary election on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Terry O'Connor and Felix Rosado stand in front of Joseph Metcalf School and talk about why they are supporting Mike Sullivan in the preliminary mayoral election in Holyoke on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 9/21/2021 10:08:23 PM

HOLYOKE — At-large City Councilor Michael Sullivan and Blandford Town Administrator Joshua Garcia will be competing in November for the chance to become Holyoke’s next mayor.

Sullivan and Garcia came in first and second, respectively, in Holyoke’s preliminary mayoral election on Tuesday, meaning that they will be the two candidates on the ballot for the general election on Nov. 2. Sullivan received 1,431 votes, representing 27.8% of the vote, according to unofficial results from the city clerk’s office. Garcia received 1,127 votes, or 21.9%.

The two pulled ahead of a crowded field of seven total candidates in an election that saw just 19% of registered voters cast a ballot. Coming in a close third was At-large City Councilor Rebecca Lisi, who finished 111 votes out of second. Her 1,016 votes represented 19.7% of the vote.

School Committee member Devin Sheehan came in fourth with 832 votes. William "Billy" Glidden, a former aide to previous mayor Alex Morse, came in fifth with 523 votes. Academic and educator Gloria Caballero Roca came in sixth with 117 votes, and businessman Christopher Kosinski finished last with 38 votes.

In a phone interview after unofficial results were announced, Sullivan said he was overwhelmed by the results. He thanked his team and said that the city had spoken.

“I want to thank the voters,” he said. “I’m looking forward to a great race and a healthy discussion and debate in the future.”

Garcia said in a phone interview that he felt great. If elected, Garcia would be the first Hispanic candidate elected mayor in a city where more than half of residents identify as Hispanic or Latino. He said that his campaign is about embracing all of the city’s many cultures.

“Tomorrow we hit the ground running,” he said. “I don’t take anything for granted."

Voter turnout was low, with only 9% of city voters having cast a ballot by 1:30 p.m. Hearing those figures, acting Mayor Terence Murphy said that has previously been the case with preliminary elections.

“We need to do a better job,” Murphy said, standing outside of City Hall on Tuesday. “I’m not quite sure how it gets done.”

Murphy, who did not endorse anyone in the race, said he suspects it was hard for candidates to get in front of voters because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, limiting the time they had to chat over coffee in local cafes, for example.

“We haven’t had that same person-to-person contact,” he said. “That’s where you get voter interest and it grows from there.”

David Sanchez and Roxanne Roman were two of the city residents voting at Joseph Metcalf School on Tuesday. 

Exiting the polling place, the two declined to say who they voted for. Sanchez said that as a small business owner he doesn’t want to see taxes go up. He said there were three candidates he was choosing between, having listened to advice from friends and watched to see which candidates paid attention to him and his neighbors in the Elmwood neighborhood.

“Uptown, downtown, they got to knock on everyone’s door,” he said.

Roman said that many factors influenced her choice, but her vote came down to “who is going to do good for the city.”

Deborah Jacobson was also casting her ballot at the school Tuesday.

“I’m looking for somebody who has the ability to successfully work with the City Council to actually accomplish some executive functions in this city,” she said, declining to say who she thought that candidate would be.

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



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