Morse to step down as Holyoke mayor next week

  • ALEX MORSE

  • Holyoke City Hall, photographed on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019.

Staff Writer
Published: 3/16/2021 8:43:59 PM

HOLYOKE — Mayor Alex Morse has announced that his last day in the job he has held for more than nine years will be March 26.

“When I reflect on the past decade, I’m proud of what we’ve been able to achieve,” said Morse, in a letter announcing his imminent resignation to City Clerk Brenna Murphy McGee. “I think of the neighborhoods that have seen record levels of new investment, the parks we’ve renovated and the new parks we’ve built, and the new housing completed and in progress. I think of the Holyokers from all different backgrounds and walks of life who got involved in the civic life of our community for the first time.”

Morse is resigning to take the job of town manager of Provincetown, which he is set to start April 5. Morse’s contract with Provincetown, which is in the process of being signed, would give him a yearly salary of $185,000 plus a $15,000 housing stipend. His salary as mayor of Holyoke is $85,000 a year, the same as it was when he first became mayor.

Morse, 32, was elected as Holyoke’s mayor four times and will be leaving as the city’s fourth-longest-serving mayor. He was only 22 when first elected.

“In important respects, the city’s next mayor will govern a city that is stronger — more prosperous, more decent, more just — than it was ten years ago. But challenges do lie ahead. And while I will no longer be mayor, I stand ready to assist in the transition as well as when I officially leave office,” said Morse in his letter.

The person in line to replace Morse and serve as acting mayor under the city charter is City Council President Todd McGee. However, McGee expressed a desire at Monday’s Charter and Rules Committee meeting to not serve as interim mayor, although he said he would be willing to do so for a limited time.

The Charter and Rules Committee unanimously recommended a home rule petition Monday that would eliminate the requirement for a special election to fill the mayor’s seat in 2021, have the person elected in November’s general election sworn in as mayor after the vote is certified instead of in January, and empower the City Council to select a city councilor to serve as acting mayor.

The committee based its recommendation on a draft drawn up by the city attorney after speaking to city councilors. Two home rule petitions calling for the elimination of a special election for mayor this year, one from City Councilor Michael Sullivan and another from City Councilor Joseph McGiverin, were sent to the committee prior to this.

Any special election would also likely include a primary election as well. City Councilor Rebecca Lisi and School Committee member Devin Sheehan have announced their candidacies for mayor, and City Councilor Michael Sullivan has a campaign website up, although he has yet to officially declare.

“It would potentially save the city from $80,000 to $100,000,” said McGiverin, on not holding the special elections.

The City Council was set to take up the home rule petition recommended by the committee at Tuesday’s meeting of the City Council at 7 p.m. If the city approves the home rule petition, it will have to pass the Legislature in order to become law.

McGiverin expressed optimism at the home rule petition’s chances.

“Both Boston and Lawrence are doing similar things,” he said.

Both cities have been granted home-rule petitions this year that eliminate the need for special mayoral elections.

The last time the city faced a vacancy in the mayor’s office was in 1991, which saw McGiverin as acting mayor. However, McGiverin said that he has no intention of taking the job again, as it would interfere with his career as a probation officer.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




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