Alex Morse makes run for mayor
Date: 2/1/2011Feb. 2, 2011
By G. Michael Dobbs
HOLYOKE Mayoral candidate Alex Morse acknowledges he may be new to public office, but he is not new to public service.
Morse formally announced his candidacy on Jan. 25 on the steps of Holyoke City Hall and told about 20 supporters who braved the cold for the event, "We already know what they are going to say I'm too young to be mayor."
The 21 year-old Holyoke native attended Holyoke High School and will be graduating this spring from Brown University with a bachelor's degree in urban studies.
"Age has nothing to do with my vision for the city," he added.
A number of elected officials agree with Morse. City Councilors Tim Purlington and Rebecca Lisi and School Committee member Gladys Lebron-Martinez have endorsed his candidacy.
In a statement given to the press, Purlington wrote, "Since meeting Alex Morse, a number of years ago, I have been impressed by his ability to set goals, achieve results and create change. He has a clear vision for how he will lead the city. We need a leader that is willing to make bold decisions that will move our city forward. To me, there's really one choice for mayor and that's Alex Morse."
Morse has already raised over $10,000 to fund his campaign.
Morse served two terms on the School Committee as the student representative, founded Holyoke For All, the city's first Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) non-profit organization and was on the Massachusetts governor's LGBT Commission for three years. He served as president of the Holyoke Youth Commission and worked with the Massachusetts Public Policy Institute, Health Care for All and the United Teen Equality Center in Lowell to write legislation to provide more mental health resources to youth across the state.
He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Holyoke Community Land Trust, the Latino Scholarship Association, the Friends of the Holyoke Public Library and the Holyoke Public Library Capital Campaign Steering Committee.
Morse said a new mayoral administration needs to "take the lead on economic development [and] take the lead on public safety."
Morse spoke of his campaign goals, which included increasing the high school graduation rate; providing tax incentives to retain current businesses and jobs; establishing business improvement districts for Main, High and Northampton streets; forming a civilian police commission; deploying police on walking and bike patrols in the downtown areas; creating a citizen's service center; and forming a Celebrate Holyoke commission to promote tourism to the city.
He intends to lower the commercial tax rate in the city and reassess property values to help businesses.
When asked how he would pay for these new initiatives, especially in light of proposed state budget cuts to municipalities, Morse said these efforts could be funded by a reallocation of existing funds. He noted that most of them don't require any funding.
A top priority is investing in the city's school system and Morse said he would work to involve parents in a dropout prevention plan. His campaign material cited a graduation rate of only 55 percent in the city.
He has announced he would seek to build a partnership between the Holyoke school and the police departments to address truancy and would recruit teachers to Holyoke by creating partnerships with local colleges that would include tuition waivers and loan forgiveness for graduates who promise to teach in the city five years.
For more information on Morse's campaign, log onto www.morseformayor.com