|By Paula Canning|
HOLYOKE Although it has been long understood that he would seek a fourth term as the city's chief leader, Mayor Michael Sullivan formally announced his campaign for re-election at a gathering at the Wherehouse? last Wednesday.
Roughly 100 people attended the event, including Chief Economic Developer Jeff Hayden, Police Chief Anthony Scott, Superintendent of School Eduardo Caballo, and City Councilors James Leahy and John Lecca.
Sullivan's opponent in the campaign is Joseph McCormick of Easthampton Road.
In an intervivew after the event, Sullivan explained that he decided to seek a fourth term because "there's a lot left to do."
"I feel there's a good momentum in the city of Holyoke, and I feel we're moving in a positive direction," he said. " I want to continue to hopefully be a part of that change."
Sullivan said that when he first became Mayor in 2001, he never imagined that he would be seeking a fourth term.
He believes, however, that political stability can be an asset to a community.
"I've realized that a lot of communities that have been very successful are communities that had the same mayor for a long time," he explained.
He said that when he compared these communities to those that had a "revolving door of mayors," he saw a noticeable difference.
"These communities were adversely affected by having a succession of mayors in a short period of time," he said.
He explained that when leadership is frequently overturned, it disrupts the community by sending it in multiple directions.
"Having consistent leadership is important," he said.
When reflecting on his administration thus far, Sullivan said he believes he has "done a lot of what I promised people I would do."
He cited the city's drop in crime, bringing back the city to a neighborhood school system, and increased economic development as some of his main accomplishments.
When reflecting on what he's most proud of, Sullivan spoke of the city's Peace Initiative.
"There's really a lot of things that I'm proud of, but all of the conversation around non-violence for the city of Holyoke has been incredibly enlightening."
He explained that the Peace Initiative, which is behind a number of programs and events aimed to encourage non-violence, has been "vibrant and robust" throughout the community.
He said that he hopes that the city will continue to combat crime not only through the Holyoke Police Department, but also through Peace Initiative programs that "give community groups an understanding as to why they shouldn't commit crimes against each other."
In looking towards the future, Sullivan said "I think it will be an interesting two years There are a number of things that we're excited about."
He said that he would like to focus on creating a comprehensive plan to fight abandonment and blight buildings around the city.
"We've done a great deal of work in that area, but many challenging properties are still left to do," he said.
According to Sullivan, Holyoke will most likely "continue to modestly improve," over the next few years.
He explained that the city has always been a "disadvantaged community" and that issues such as a large population of low-income elderly will continue to be a "part of [the city's] fabric."
Despite this, Sullivan said he hopes that the city continue to become more civil and less violent, and that the standard of living will "modestly improve."
"I think the future looks very bright for the city of Holyoke," he said.
Candidates have until Sept.13 to file nomination papers for the Nov. 8 election.