Joshua Garcia prevails in Holyoke mayor’s race

  • Holyoke mayoral candidate Joshua Garcia acknowledges a supporter while campaigning in Holyoke on Tuesday. Garcia, 35, became the city’s first ever Latino mayor by defeating At-Large City Councilor Michael Sullivan. FOR THE GAZETTE/CHRISTOPHER EVANS

  • Holyoke mayoral candidate Joshua Garcia receives a hug from resident Aida Marquez while campaigning in Holyoke on Tuesday. FOR THE GAZETTE/CHRISTOPHER EVANS

  • Holyoke mayoral candidate Joshua Garcia talks with a supporter while campaigning in Holyoke on Tuesday. FOR THE GAZETTE/CHRISTOPHER EVANS

  • Holyoke mayoral candidate Joshua Garcia talks with a supporter while campaigning in Holyoke on Tuesday. FOR THE GAZETTE/CHRISTOPHER EVANS

  • Holyoke mayoral candidate Joshua Garcia shares a laugh with a supporter while campaigning Tuesday. FOR THE GAZETTE/CHRISTOPHER EVANS

  • Holyoke mayoral candidate Joshua Garcia campaigns in Holyoke on Tuesday. FOR THE GAZETTE/CHRISTOPHER EVANS

  • Holyoke mayoral candidate Joshua Garcia talks with a supporter while campaigning in Holyoke on Tuesday. FOR THE GAZETTE/CHRISTOPHER EVANS

  • Holyoke City Councilor and mayoral candidate Michael Sullivan talks with supporters at his campaign headquarters in Holyoke on Tuesday. FOR THE GAZETTE/CHRISTOPHER EVANS

  • Holyoke City Councilor and mayoral candidate Michael Sullivan talks with supporters at his campaign headquarters in Holyoke on Tuesday. FOR THE GAZETTE/CHRISTOPHER EVANS

  • Holyoke City Councilor and mayoral candidate Michael Sullivan talks with supporters at his campaign headquarters in Holyoke on Tuesday. FOR THE GAZETTE/CHRISTOPHER EVANS

  • Holyoke Mayor-elect Joshua Garcia celebrates with supporters during an election night party in Holyoke on Tuesday, November 2, 2021. Photo by Christopher Evans

  • Holyoke Mayor-elect Joshua Garcia celebrates with his son Ethan, left, and wife Stefany during an election night party in Holyoke on Tuesday, November 2, 2021. Photo by Christopher Evans

  • Supporters of Holyoke Mayor-elect Joshua Garcia celebrate during an election night party in Holyoke on Tuesday, November 2, 2021. Photo by Christopher Evans

  • Holyoke Mayor-elect Joshua Garcia celebrates with his son Ethan, left, and wife Stefany during an election night party in Holyoke on Tuesday, November 2, 2021. Photo by Christopher Evans

  • Holyoke Mayor-elect Joshua Garcia celebrates with supporters in Holyoke on Tuesday, November 2, 2021. Photo by Christopher Evans

Staff Writer
Published: 11/2/2021 8:49:07 PM

HOLYOKE — History was made Tuesday night in Holyoke, which elected its first ever Latino mayor: Joshua Garcia.

At-Large City Councilor Michael Sullivan conceded shortly after polls closed at 8 p.m., according to campaign organizer Paul St. Pierre. Garcia, who is currently the town administrator of Blandford, will become the 45th mayor of the city after winning 4,566 votes compared to Sullivan’s 3,548.

Garcia, 35, is a native son of the city, where 54% of residents identify as Hispanic or Latino. Born and raised in South Holyoke, Garcia campaigned as a “Holyoker with an experience that is Puerto Rican.” He largely focused his message not on the potentially historic meaning of his victory, though, but on the municipal experience in his resume and his fiscal plans for the city. He finished with 56% of the vote.

In a victory speech at City Sports Bar & Grille, Garcia reiterated that message. He said his campaign was committed to citizens of the city, from west Holyoke to South Holyoke.

“First and foremost, we’re Holyokers,” Garcia said, his son hugging him around the waist and the crowd roaring. “Whether you’re white, Puerto Rican, Black” he said, smiling as people called out more of the identities represented at the victory party. “Colombian! Costa Rican.”

“We’re all one,” Garcia said.

Outside Garcia’s party, yells of “¡wepa!” — a Puerto Rican expression of excitement — filled the air. Near the dance floor was Gladys LeBron-Martinez, the longtime Ward 1 city councilor who is stepping aside after 10 years on the council.

“We made history,” she said, describing the work that went into boosting Garcia’s campaign, from door-knocking to speaking to city residents outside church services and at community events.

“I kept reminding him: you’re going to open doors,” she said. “For people who think civic engagement is not beneficial or that it’s not possible for us to win.”

Garcia will be sworn in on Nov. 15, replacing current acting Mayor Terence Murphy, who took on the job this spring after former mayor Alex Morse was hired as town manager in Provincetown. Garcia will complete the remainder of Morse’s term before beginning his own four-year term in January.

Garcia is a resident of the Oakdale neighborhood, and is married to Stefany Garcia — the family access engagement coordinator in the city’s public schools. He has two children, twins Ethan and Allison.

Raised by a single mother who moved to the city from Puerto Rico, Garcia has said his family was able to use the social services and opportunities provided in Holyoke to succeed. He worked at the city’s Boys and Girls Club as a high schooler and college student.

Garcia got a master’s degree in public administration from Westfield State University and has served as Blandford’s town administrator since 2018. He has worked in roles at the Holyoke Housing Authority and Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and served on the city’s School Committee.

On the campaign trail, he often said that he was concerned with how the city’s finances are managed, and about how departments function together in City Hall.

Garcia and Sullivan, a three-term city councilor, both emerged out of a packed field in a preliminary election on Sept. 21.

Sullivan, 69, came in first out of the seven candidates and Garcia second. They defeated At-large City Councilor Rebecca Lisi, School Committee member Devin Sheehan, writer William “Billy” Glidden, academic and educator Gloria Caballero Roca and businessman Christopher Kosinski.

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



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