The Holyoke, Massachusetts mayoral race ended in a political upset last night, when 22-year-old Alex Morse beat 67-year-old incumbent Elaine Pluta.
The crowd of about 150 youthful supporters was ecstatic as it watched the poll numbers pour in…
[Sound of cheers]
Alex Morse, a Holyoke native who graduated from Brown University in the spring, thanked his supporters in English and Spanish.
"This is not over. Tomorrow it begins, the hard work. This campaign has been an incredible journey. Es muy importante que cambiamos la ciudad de Holyoke. Vamos a hacerlo. Muchas gracias a todos de ustedes."
The Holyoke race attracted attention in September when Morse finished ahead of Pluta in the four-way preliminary by just a single vote. He went on to defeat her by more than 900 votes in last night's race. The biggest issue for voters may have been the candidate's opposing views on bringing a casino to town. That's what several Morse supporters said at the victory party, including Edison Santana.
"The issues that mattered to me, one was the no casino. His vision for the greening of Holyoke through this hi-tech, computerized programming."
Instead of a casino, Morse is pushing for a high performance computing center in the city, along with supporting the emerging artist community downtown. Previous Mayor Elaine Pluta had said that if the Governor signed legislation that allowed a casino In Western Massachusetts, she would fight for one to be developed in Holyoke. In his acceptance speech Morse said he wants to make the city a place where all students can get a great education.
"We need to make Holyoke a place where all people can get good, healthy jobs. (Cheer) We need to make Holyoke a place where all people, no matter what neighborhood you're in, you're gonna feel safe. And most importantly, we need to make sure that no matter when, no matter where we live, what language we speak, what we look like, we are always proud to call Holyoke home."
Morse has his work cut out for him. A third of Holyoke residents live below the poverty line. Eighty percent of public school students are Hispanic and the public school system is working hard to accommodate the many Spanish speakers. Morse says he's ready to take on the challenge.