Michael Sullivan will face Joshua Garcia in November's general election for mayor in Holyoke, Massachusetts. They were the top two finishers in Tuesday’s preliminary.
Sullivan, a city councilor, finished atop the seven-person field with about 28% of the vote. Garcia, who works as the town administrator in Blandford, came in with about 22%, 111 votes ahead of City Councilor Rebecca Lisi.
Sullivan, after his victory, said there's some key issues he'll continue to focus on.
"We've got to bring some business and good-paying jobs back to the Holyoke," Sullivan said. "Gotta take back control of our schools, and we really, really gotta rebuild our infrastructure."
The Holyoke Public Schools have been under state receivership since 2015, when education officials deemed them chronically underperforming.
Garcia agreed about many of those items, but said better management is needed to accomplish them.
"Each of these elements of very dependent on how well we operate internally as a local government, and I think that's where we are failing," Garcia said.
Garcia managed to finish second despite trailing four other candidates in fundraising through the end of August. According to state campaign finance data, he raised $15,436. Sullivan had raked in $39,844, which was the second most among all candidates.
The leading fundraiser, Billy Glidden, took in $47,956, but finished fifth in the voting.
Sullivan and Garcia are vying for an open seat. Former Mayor Alex Morse resigned earlier this year to become the town manager of Provincetown. City Councilor Terry Murphy has served as acting mayor for most of that time.
Just shy of 19% of Holyoke voters cast ballots in Tuesday's preliminary. The last time Holyoke held a mayoral preliminary was 2017, and under 14% of registered voters participating.
Voters had the option of casting ballots early, by absentee or by mail. But many, like Marc Hickey, voted in person — despite the threat of COVID-19.
"I always vote in person," Hickey said. "It's just something I've done for my 30 years of voting. It's Election Day. You come and you vote."
Beverly Trombley, a Holyoke resident of 34 years, also cast her ballot in person.
"It's just one of those things I've done for years, and it gets me out," Trombley said with a laugh. "And I like to know that it's done the way I want it to be done and that it's taken in correctly."
Trombley voted for Sullivan, saying she's worried, in part, about the city's bus driver shortage.
“I don't have any children in school, but it's too bad that we have to get [the National Guard] to drive them to school these days,” Trombley said. “There's a lot of things that need to be handled differently, and I'm sure that the person I voted for is capable of doing that.”
For Hickey, the biggest issue facing Holyoke is how to get the city's schools out of state receivership. He is running for an at-large seat on the school committee, and supported Sullivan in the mayoral race.
"[Sullivan has] fought the mayor [Morse], and so much bad stuff has happened in our city because of Alex Morse," Hickey said. "And really the only fighter against him has been Mike Sullivan, so he got my vote."
Macksey, Bond Move On In North Adams
North Adams, Massachusetts, also held its mayoral preliminary Tuesday. Jennifer Macksey and Lynette Bond are the two finalists.
They finished far ahead of two other candidates in Tuesday’s election, and will be on the ballot in November's general contest. According to The Berkshire Eagle and iBerkshires.com, Macksey, an assistant school superintendent in the Berkshires, finished atop the field with almost 55% of the vote. Bond, a North Adams planning board member, was at nearly 42%.
The winner will replace Mayor Tom Bernard, who is not running for re-election after two terms.