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New mayor of Holyoke turns to recent political rivals for advice

Joshua Garcia and his son Ethan, on November 15, 2021, Garcia's first day as mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Don Treeger
The Republican / masslive.com
Joshua Garcia and his son Ethan, on November 15, 2021, Garcia's first day as mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Holyoke, Massachusetts, Mayor Joshua Garcia has created seven advisory councils to inform his municipal decision-making, with four to be led by recent political rivals.

Each advisory council of about a dozen people will focus on an issue, like housing, energy and public health. Garcia said appointing several former mayoral candidates to lead the groups is a way to bridge a gap.

"I know it's going to sound weird for me, because I'm the elected mayor," Garcia said, "but I really care less about politics and I lead through the lens of city management."

Garcia defeated Michael Sullivan, a former city councilor, last November and now he's asking him to chair a council on infrastructure and economic development.

Sullivan welcomed the opportunity, and said he didn't see the invite as a way for Garcia to appease a political opponent.

"I think it was a genuine effort on his part to reach out to help bring the community together," Sullivan said, including around how to spend federal COVID-19 relief money on infrastructure.

Garcia also tapped three other 2021 mayoral candidates to chair committees. Devin Sheehan will lead an advisory panel on restructuring government, Gloria Caballero-Roca's council will focus on public safety and public health, and a committee led by William Glidden will look at housing.

Jill Kaufman has been a reporter and host at NEPM since 2005. Before that she spent 10 years at WBUR in Boston, producing "The Connection" with Christopher Lydon and on "Morning Edition" reporting and hosting. She's also hosted NHPR's daily talk show "The Exhange" and was an editor at PRX's "The World."
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