Where Sullivan, Garcia captured votes in Holyoke’s preliminary election

  • Blandford Town Administrator Joshua Garcia, left, and Holyoke At-large City Councilor Michael Sullivan are the candidates for Holyoke mayor following Tuesday’s preliminary election. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Staff Writer
Published: 9/22/2021 1:47:41 PM

HOLYOKE — The race for mayor of Holyoke has been narrowed down to two candidates who managed to capture a plurality of the vote in different parts of the city: At-large City Councilor Michael Sullivan and Blandford Town Administrator Joshua Garcia.

In total, 5,152 voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s preliminary election, representing just 19% voter turnout, according to unofficial results from the city clerk’s office. Sullivan won 27.8% of that vote, followed by Garcia with 21.9%.

Coming in third was At-large City Councilor Rebecca Lisi with 19.7% of the vote. School Committee member Devin Sheehan came in fourth with 16.1%. Writer and former mayoral aide William “Billy” Glidden finished fifth with 10.2%. Academic and educator Gloria Caballero Roca received 2.3% of the vote, good for sixth place, and businessman Christopher Kosinski finished last with 0.7%.

As is often the case in Holyoke, Ward 7 — which contains the Smith’s Ferry, Highland Park and Highlands neighborhoods — outvoted the city’s other wards. Ward 7 voters cast 1,331 ballots. Sullivan received 350 votes there, Lisi 338 votes, Sheehan 219 votes, Garcia 201 votes and Glidden 191 votes.

Voters in Ward 5 cast 1,071 ballots, the second most among all the city’s wards. Ward 5 covers the Whiting Farms neighborhood, much of the Homestead Avenue neighborhood and all but the northernmost section of the Rock Valley neighborhood. Sullivan also won there with 356 votes, followed by Sheehan’s 268, Garcia’s 162, Glidden’s 125 and Lisi’s 118.

In Ward 3, 959 residents voted. Ward 3 covers the entirety of Elmwood neighborhood, as well as the northeastern portion of the Homestead Avenue neighborhood and a small section of Whiting Farms. Sullivan received 302 votes, Lisi 210, Sheehan 174, Garcia 171 and Glidden 73.

Though Garcia received fewer votes in those wards, which according to U.S. census data are the city’s wealthier and predominantly white neighborhoods, he was able to make up the difference in the city’s lower wards where far more Hispanic residents live.

In Ward 1, representing the Flats and downtown neighborhoods, Garcia finished first with 180 votes. Sullivan came in second there with 74 votes, Lisi came in third with 67 votes and Sheehan came in fourth with 15 votes.

Garcia also did well in the Ward 2 neighborhoods of Churchill, Springdale, Ingleside and South Holyoke, where he grew up. He received 122 votes there, followed by Sullivan’s 86, Lisi’s 55 and Sheehan’s 33.

Garcia also won Ward 4, which contains parts of downtown, Churchill and the Highlands. He tallied 120 votes there, ahead of Lisi’s 97 and Sullivan’s 75. Sheehan and Glidden both finished with 29 votes in the ward, and Caballero Roca pulled in 25 votes.

Ward 6, which contains the Oakdale and Jarvis Avenue neighborhoods, went to Sullivan with 188 votes. Garcia received 171 votes there, Lisi 131, Sheehan 94 and Glidden 63.

If elected on Nov. 2 as mayor, Garcia would be the first Hispanic mayor in the city, where some 54% of the population identified as Latino or Hispanic, according to census data.

Sullivan raised and spent far more money than Garcia heading into Tuesday’s contest, pulling in $60,088 — including $20,000 from his previous campaign account — according to state campaign finance data. As of Aug. 31, Sullivan had spent $40,442 of that, much of it on video advertisements and commercials. Garcia, meanwhile, has raised $22,444. Through Aug. 31, he had spent $9,303.

Tuesday’s election did bring a little bit of frustration for some voters who showed up at their polling places only to find out that they were listed as inactive. That’s because they had not filled out their city census or responded to a follow-up postcard from the city clerk’s office.

City Clerk Brenna Murphy McGee said that there were more inactive voters than normal this year — a trend she said the secretary of state’s office saw across Massachusetts.

The issue caused some people to reach out in frustration to the city clerk’s office, Murphy McGee said, noting that some people thought they had been taken off the voter rolls. That’s not the case, however. She said those listed as inactive have to, per state law, show some means of identification — a bill with your name on it, for example — to affirm that you still live at the address in question.

Murphy McGee said that the city clerk’s office intends to scan its voting lists to determine how many residents are inactive and to issue information about how to address that.

City voters have until Oct. 13 to register for the general election, which is Nov. 2.

In addition to the mayor’s race, that election will feature contested City Council races in all but two of the city’s seven wards, as well as 11 candidates competing for six at-large City Council seats. There are also competitive School Committee races in Ward 4 and Ward 7.

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

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