Morse received 5,429 votes, while O’Connell earned 4,855.
After winning, Morse told Reminder Publications he welcomes input from residents who voted for his opponent.
“I lead the city in a very inclusive way,” he explained. “This isn’t about who you vote for. All of us are residents of the city of Holyoke and I stand for a vision that includes everyone; those that are new to Holyoke and those who are coming in the future. And we’ve seen unprecedented progress in all areas of our city over the last couple years, and the voters sent a loud message tonight that we’re going to continue moving in the right direction.”
Morse said he would like to see 450 units of new housing completed during his third term, which is currently in the pipeline for the downtown area.
“Some of that’s rehabilitation and low income housing and a lot of that is new mixed income housing and market rate housing,” he said. “Our city, much like other urban communities across the country – our success depends on our ability to bring people back to the city, back to the downtown - to create a dense, diverse, vibrant downtown Holyoke.”
He added that solving the opioid area crisis in the city is another issue that he plans to make a priority.
O’Connell, owner of senior citizen care business O’Connell Care at Home, said it’s too early to tell whether he would consider running for the mayoral office again.
“Of course, I’m disappointed,” he added. “I don’t feel like I let anyone down, but my followers and supporters are disappointed. That’s where my focus is right now is trying to help them sort of get through this.”
When asked if he had any advice for Morse’s third term, O’Connell said he believes the city’s level of poverty is an issue that needs to be addressed.
“If I had any advice for Alex, it would be to really get serious about attracting a major manufacturing company, which we’re ripe to host here in Holyoke so that the people can have living wage jobs,” O’Connell said. “That’s really what concerns me – that we have the haves and the have nots in this city and it seems like the have nots are not getting their fair due. And that’s what I was hoping to do with Holyoke.”
O’Connell said despite losing the mayoral race to Morse, he hasn’t taken the defeat personally.
“People in Holyoke believe in [Morse] and believe in what he’s doing and that’s the great thing about a democracy,” he said. “Even my opponent has said several times that I didn’t like him. I have no feelings about him one way or the other. I had feelings about how he was running his administration and I made those clear during the campaign. This isn’t about personalities and whether you like someone. This isn’t high school; this is about what’s best for the city. I am so okay and so comfortable with the voters deciding what they want.”
O’Connell also thanked Reminder Publications Managing Editor G. Michael Dobbs for his professionalism covering O’Connell’s campaign, adding “not everyone has been.”