Majority of Easthampton City Council back Morse

  • U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, left, and Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse are locked in a Democratic primary in the 1st Congressional District.

Staff Writer
Published: 7/17/2020 9:09:06 PM
Modified: 7/17/2020 9:08:53 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Five members of the City Council, a majority of that body, have endorsed Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse for the 1st Congressional District seat in the Democratic primary against Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield.

“It’s a complete honor to have the support of the majority of the Easthampton City Council,” Morse said. “It’s a very progressive place.”

The campaign rolled out endorsements from councilors Owen Zaret, William Lynch IV, Lindsey Rothschild, Thomas Peake and City Council President Peg Conniff on Wednesday afternoon. Conniff, Zaret, Lynch and Rothschild are Easthampton’s four at-large councilors, while Peake represents Precinct 3. The Easthampton City Council has nine members total.

“I really want a representative that I connect with that I feel like represents our values,” Rothschild said.

Rothschild said she was disappointed that Neal’s office failed to respond to her efforts to get him to hold a town hall after the election of President Donald Trump, an effort that included her dropping a petition off with 177 signatures at his Washington, D.C. office.

Although Neal would eventually hold a town hall, Rothschild said that she “never heard anything from his office,” acknowledging her outreach on the subject.

Rothschild also cited Morse’s support for Medicare for all, the Green New Deal and racial justice.

“He reflects more my values,” she said.

Peake said that while Neal “has done a lot of great things,” the time has come for new leadership.

“I think that we need some leadership that’s a bit more responsive,” he said

Zaret said that he’s familiar with the mayor’s work from working in Holyoke at Holyoke Medical Center, as well as from living in the next city over. He cited Morse’s support of single-payer health care, aggressive stance toward the opioid epidemic and “strong support for the environment.”

Lynch said that he got to see Morse’s leadership when he was a business manager in Holyoke.

“I had a great experience collaborating with him in the past,” he said.

Conniff said the other councilors endorsing Morse are young and progressive and she said that she, at 61 and recently retired, is joining them because she has nieces and nephews.

“People need to be fighting for the next generation,” she said.

One of Neal’s most prominent supporters in the city is Mayor Nicole LaChapelle.

“I understand that there’s a time for change,” she said. “But change at the expense of what?”

LaChapelle noted that the House of Representatives runs on seniority, and said that Morse would have a harder time getting money to the district than Neal. Neal, who was first elected in 1988, is the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

LaChapelle also said that Neal’s ability to pass bills stands in contrast with Morse’s inability to build consensus with his own City Council.

“I don’t know how that works in Congress,” she said.

The Democratic primary election will take place on Sept. 1, and no candidate will be on the ballot to oppose the winner in November.

Morse described Easthampton as “an incredibly important city for us.”

“Easthampton is essential for us to win on Sept. 1,” said Morse, who expressed confidence he would carry the city.

Neal was not available for comment. 

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