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Regional News

Massachusetts Nurses Association Reaffirms Support Of Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse

Alex Morse in Holyoke, Massachusetts, in 2015.
Creative Commons
Alex Morse in Holyoke, Massachusetts, in 2015.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association says it will continue to support Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse's campaign for Congress in the state's 1st District.

Morse is challenging incumbent Richard Neal in the Democratic primary next month. Allegations surfaced recently that Morse may have engaged in inappropriate conduct with college students while teaching classes at UMass Amherst. The school is conducting an investigation.

Mark Brodeur is a nurse at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, and he's a member of the nurses' association board.

"We did discuss a whole lot of different things," Brodeur said. "We support Alex in participating in an investigation. We certainly support anyone in coming forward."

Brodeur said the nurses' union is open to any new facts that might be presented, but Morse stands for important issues the group supports, including "Medicare for All."

Another group continuing to support Morse is the CD-1 Progressive Coalition.

David Greenberg of the coalition said the accusations against Morse are vague.

"If you look at that, and also include the fact that the election is in three weeks — and when something like this falls out of the sky, it's very difficult to recover from — it kind of makes you wonder where this is coming from, and what this is about," Greenberg said.

Kate Norton, a spokeswoman for Neal's campaign — when asked about any involvement in bringing the allegations to light — said a student group did so independently. 

One local group focusing on environmental issues, the Sunshine Western Mass. Coalition, did pull its endorsement over the allegations, saying Morse "has shown a disturbing pattern of poor judgment and abuse of power."  

A posting on its Facebook page continued: 

Although we still strongly support the policies that Alex champions, including Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, we can no longer say that we trust him with the power of the MA-01 congressional seat.

College Democrats of Massachusetts had sent Morse a letter recently barring him from events and accusing him of using his “position of power for romantic or sexual gain.”

The group claims Morse had relationships with college students, including during his current Democratic primary campaign against Neal of Springfield, and "pursued" students the mayor met at College Democrats events.

Morse, 31, taught a political science course at UMass Amherst eight times between fall of 2014 and fall of 2019.

Morse acknowledged having relationships with college students. While not explicitly saying if he dated students he taught, Morse on Sunday denied he violated UMass policy.

"Any claim to the contrary is false," Morse wrote. "As I've acknowledged, I've had consensual relationships with other men, including students enrolled at local universities that I've met using dating apps."

Morse said he has never used his position of power as mayor or a UMass lecturer for "romantic or sexual gain," but did issue an apology to students who felt uncomfortable by his interactions with them.

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