Majority of Holyoke City Council seats turn over in Tuesday’s election

  • Holyoke City Hall, as seen from Holyoke Heritage State Park, on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO



Staff Writer
Published: 11/2/2021 11:17:05 PM

HOLYOKE — It is a year for change on Holyoke’s City Council, which will be its most diverse ever after six candidates of color were elected to the 13-member body.

In a year when the city elected its first Latino mayor, city voters also ushered in two new Latino at-large council candidates: Israel Rivera and Jose Maldonado-Velez. There were 11 candidates running for the six open at-large seats on the City Council.

Former City Council President Kevin Jourdain, who served 24 years on the council before stepping away in 2018, received the most at-large votes with 3,534, according to unofficial results from the city clerk’s office. He was followed by Rivera with 3,513, incumbents Peter Tallman and Joseph McGiverin with 3,503 and 3,267, respectively, Tessa Murphy-Romboletti with 3,233, and Maldonado Velez with 3,172. Incumbents James Leahy, an 11-term councilor, and Howard Greaney, who had served six years total, were bumped from the council.

Only two other Latino candidates have ever been elected to an at-large seat: Alejandro Sánchez and Aaron Vega. In an interview from a victory party at City Sports Bar & Lounge, Rivera said it was a surreal moment.

“It speaks volumes to what the people want for the city,” he said. “They want representation and seeing people from different backgrounds represent the city.”

Ward races

In Ward 1, Jenny Rivera defeated Victor Machado, 398 votes to 186 votes. Rivera works as an outreach paraprofessional in the Holyoke Public Schools.

Ward 2 was one of the few races that went uncontested this year. Will Puello was elected as the next councilor to represent the ward, replacing Terence Murphy, who is serving as acting mayor and city councilor currently. Murphy did not run for reelection.

In Ward 3, incumbent David Bartley defeated Anne Thalheimer. This will be the sixth term in office for Bartley, who is an attorney. He received 766 votes as Thalheimer tallied 584.

Ward 4 elected Kocayne Givner over Michael Thomas Siciliano. Givner, a fashion designer, won 341 votes as Siciliano got 301.

Linda Vacon won reelection for her seventh term in Ward 5, defeating challenger Guy O’Donnell 852 votes to 833. Vacon is a nurse.

Ward 6 also reelected its incumbent councilor, Juan Anderson-Burgos. A two-term councilor and a legislative aide to state Rep. Patricia Duffy, D-Holyoke, Anderson-Burgos defeated businessman Preston Macy by a wide margin: 797 to 272.

City Council President Todd McGee ran unopposed in Ward 7.

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