The five candidates running for mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts faced off in a debate Wednesday. Several challengers went after the youth of incumbent Mayor Alex Morse, who is 24 years old.
Candidate Jeff Stanek cites his experience as a former chief financial officer for several companies as credentials for becoming Holyoke’s mayor. Speaking about his own business experience at the debate, Stanek talked directly about Morse’s youth.
“We’re running a $120 million entity, and there are certain life experiences that are necessary to make that effective, and be effective in that role,” said Stanek.
Morse dismissed those claims after the debate.
“I think that’s an old, tired, age-ist argument,” said Morse. “I’ve been mayor for longer than he’s been mayor first of all, and I understand how to balance the city’s budget. We’ve made progress. I don’t think that’s an argument that resonates with the voters.”
Another challenger, Danny Szostkiewicz, who was the city’s mayor from 1996 to 1999, also alluded to Morse’s age, saying the city can’t afford a leader who learns on the job. Candidates Dan Boyle and Jim Santiago also participated in the debate. A preliminary election to narrow the field to two candidates is next Tuesday.