Court rules for Holyoke mayor in dispute over CPA ballot question

  • Holyoke City Hall is shown in September 2019. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia stands with rallygoers gathered in front of city hall on Sept. 13  to protest the cost of housing in the city. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Published: 10/3/2023 1:17:21 PM
Modified: 10/3/2023 1:16:20 PM

HOLYOKE — A Hampden County Superior Court judge has refused to grant a motion for an injunction brought by four Holyoke city councilors against Mayor Joshua A. Garcia.

At issue was Garcia’s veto of a City Council vote to include on the November 2023 ballot a question on reducing of the city’s Community Preservation Act property tax surcharge. Garcia said he vetoed that proposal because he thought the tax surcharge question should be on the 2024 presidential election ballot, not the 2023 city ballot.

“Election records show three to four times as many Holyokers participate in a presidential rather than a municipal election,” Garcia wrote. “Letting more people have their say seems to me worth the slight delay in voting.”

Superior Court Justice Jane E. Mulqueen concurred. In a one-page decision, she wrote that “the plaintiffs failed to follow the procedure for amending the surcharge as required” by state law. She wrote that plaintiffs had failed to establish that denial of the injunction would result in irreparable harm, stating: “Economic loss is insufficient as irreparable harm, and there has been no showing of any other harm if the surcharge reduction question appears on the November 2024 ballot instead of November 2023.”

The councilors who brought the court action — Linda Vacon, Wilmer Puello, Kevin Jourdain and David Bartley — argued that Garcia lacked the authority to veto placing the tax surcharge reduction question on the 2023 ballot. But Mulqueen rejected this argument, stating that “the Community Preservation Act (CPA) does not preempt or override Holyoke’s city charter.”

Concerning the lawsuit, Garcia said, “We were fortunate that our city solicitor’s office could respond to this lawsuit on such short notice, saving the city thousands in additional outside legal fees.”


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