‘A great responsibility’: Holyoke ushers in newly elected school, city officials 

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  • Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, center, and council members, background left, join E.N. White School Principal Jacqueline Glasheen and her dual-language students in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance during an inauguration ceremony for elected officials held in the Holyoke City Hall auditorium on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Holyoke At-large City Councilor Howard Greaney, left, shakes hands with Ward 7 Councilor Todd McGee after McGee was elected council president in the council chambers following an inauguration ceremony for elected officials at Holyoke City Hall on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Newly elected Holyoke Ward 4 City Councilor Libby Hernandez speaks in council chambers following Monday’s inaugural ceremony for elected officials at Holyoke City Hall. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Holyoke High School Madrigal Choir, lead by Mark Todd, left, sings the National Anthem during an inaugural ceremony for Holyoke city council and school committee members held in the Holyoke City Hall auditorium on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • First-term Holyoke Ward 4 City Councilor Libby Hernandez holds a Puerto Rican flag as she sits between At-large Councilor James Leahy, left, and Ward 3 Councilor David Bartley at an inaugural ceremony held in the Holyoke City Hall auditorium on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Holyoke City Clerk Brenna Murphy-McGee, right, administers the oath of office to the 13 city councilors during an inaugural ceremony in the Holyoke City Hall auditorium on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Holyoke Ward 7 City Councilor Todd McGee, center, makes his way around the council chambers to shake hands with the other 12 councilors after he was voted council president by unanimous vote on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Holyoke Police Honor Guard retires the colors following an inaugural ceremony for elected officials held in the Holyoke City Hall auditorium on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse speaks during an inaugural ceremony for city council and school committee members in the Holyoke City Hall auditorium on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. Morse, in his third year of a four-year term, was not among those being sworn in so did not deliver an inaugural address. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Former Holyoke Ward 4 City Councilor Jossie Valentin, who now heads Elizabeth Warren's campaign in Massachusetts, talks about having Libby Hernandez, another Spanish-speaking Latina, take her seat on the council. Valentin spoke to the Gazette in the council chambers following the inaugural ceremony at Holyoke City Hall on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Holyoke Ward 7 City Councilor Todd McGee is sworn in as council president by City Clerk Brenna Murphy-McGee after a unanimous vote at a council meeting that followed the inaugural ceremony at Holyoke City Hall on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Holyoke At-large City Councilor Joseph McGiverin speaks at an inaugural ceremony for elected officials held in the Holyoke City Hall auditorium on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Holyoke At-large City Councilor Rebecca Lisi attends the first meeting of the new year in the council chambers following an inaugural ceremony held upstairs in the Holyoke City Hall auditorium on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Holyoke Ward 2 City Councilor Terence Murphy attends the first meeting of the new year in the council chambers following an inaugural ceremony held upstairs in the Holyoke City Hall auditorium on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Holyoke Ward1 City Councilor Gladys Lebron-Martinez attends the first meeting of the new year in the Holyoke City Hall council chambers following an inaugural ceremony held upstairs in the auditorium on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Holyoke Ward 6 City Councilor Juan C. Anderson-Burgos attends the first meeting of the new year in the council chambers following an inaugural ceremony held upstairs in the Holyoke City Hall auditorium on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Holyoke Ward 3 City Councilor David Bartley attends the first meeting of the new year in the council chambers following an inaugural ceremony held upstairs in the Holyoke City Hall auditorium on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Holyoke At-large City Councilor James Leahy attends the first meeting of the new year in the council chambers following an inaugural ceremony held upstairs in the Holyoke City Hall auditorium on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Holyoke Ward 5 City Councilor Linda Vacon attends the first meeting of the new year in the council chambers following an inaugural ceremony held upstairs in the Holyoke City Hall auditorium on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Holyoke At-large City Councilor Peter Tallman attends the first meeting of the new year in the council chambers following an inaugural ceremony held upstairs in the Holyoke City Hall auditorium on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Holyoke At-large City Councilor Michael J. Sullivan attends the first meeting of the new year in the council chambers following an inaugural ceremony held upstairs in the Holyoke City Hall auditorium on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Holyoke Ward 7 City Councilor Todd McGee is sworn in as council president at Holyoke City Hall on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Holyoke Ward 4 City Councilor Libby Hernandez attends the first meeting of the new year in the council chambers following an inaugural ceremony held upstairs in the Holyoke City Hall auditorium on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Holyoke At-large City Councilor Howard Greaney attends the first meeting of the new year in the council chambers following an inaugural ceremony held upstairs in the Holyoke City Hall auditorium on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse speaks during an inaugural ceremony for city council and school committee members in the Holyoke City Hall auditorium on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. Morse, in his third year of a four-year term, was not among those being sworn in so did not deliver an inaugural address. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Holyoke Fire Chief John Pond, left, attends the inaugural ceremony for elected officials held in the Holyoke City Hall auditorium on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 1/6/2020 2:28:19 PM

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated which School Committee members were newly elected this term. Rebecca Birks is the new School Committee member from Ward 3.

HOLYOKE — The sound of bagpipes greeted the audience gathered in the City Hall auditorium on Monday for the inauguration of those newly elected to the City Council and School Committee.

The ceremony was the first in Holyoke’s history when the mayor, who now serves a four-year term, was not sworn in together with the rest of city government. Following the event, the City Council moved down to its chambers, where councilors unanimously re-elected Ward 7 Councilor Todd McGee as council president.

“In this chamber, issues come up that we get passionate about,” McGee said. “But never forget, there are times we have to come back together and be a team together.”

The ceremony began with a lengthy Christian invocation by a local pastor, followed by a bilingual Pledge of Allegiance by the dual-language students from E.N. White Elementary School and “The Star-Spangled Banner” performed by the Holyoke High School Madrigal Choir. 

There were only a few new faces on stage, with two newly elected city councilors — Ward 4’s Libby Hernandez and At-Large Councilor Howard Greaney — sworn in to the 13-member body. Greaney previously served on the City Council from 2013 to 2017. 

“It’s good to be back,” Greaney said after the ceremony. “We look forward to making some sensible legislation for the city of Holyoke.”

Hernandez said it felt fantastic to officially take her seat in the council.

“I feel I’m ready to learn, make good decisions, research and be there for all the people,” she said.

During the ceremony, Hernandez held a Puerto Rican flag, a detail that was appreciated by her predecessor, Jossie Valentin, who decided not to run for re-election as she leads Elizabeth Warren’s campaign in the state. 

Valentin said that she believed she was the first Latina ever elected to the Ward 4 seat, and so having another Spanish-speaking Latina elected to the seat was important for representation in the city.

“To see that she’s replacing me in that role is very special,” Valentin said.

This year also saw a new School Committee member elected to office — Rebecca Birks from Ward 3.

At-Large School Committee member Devin Sheehan presided over the occasion. He implored the elected officials to rise above the national political rhetoric and to keep Holyoke foremost in their decisions.

“The residents of Holyoke have placed a great responsibility on the City Council and School Committee that can not be taken lightly,” Sheehan said.

After the new City Council and School Committee members took the oath of office, the City Council unanimously re-elected McGee as president.  

Before voting, several councilors gave short speeches announcing why they were supporting McGee.

“When he ran as president two years ago, he made a promise to elevate the level of discourse and decorum in these chambers,” At-Large City Councilor Rebecca Lisi said. McGee had made good on that promise, she added.

“He does a good job for the city of Holyoke,” Greaney added.

After the vote, McGee was sworn in by City Clerk Brenna Murphy McGee, h is wife, before taking his pl ace in front of the podium. 

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


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