NextGen Recap: 23 Year Old Mayor Morse of Holyoke, MA

Mayor Morse
is a 23-year-old Mayor from Holyoke, Massachusetts. Morse was born and raised in Holyoke, which is in Western Massachusetts, just outside of Springfield. Morse stated that the city has about 2,000 employees. Mayor Morse was the first in his family to go to college, and graduated from Brown University in 2011. Mayor Morse spent his senior year campaigning for Mayor of Holyoke.

Morse was running against an incumbent mayor, who had been on the council for over 20 years. Mayor Morse stated that he ran a positive campaign, which started in January of 2011. Alluding to the challenges he was facing, along with the City, Morse identified that he was the only candidate under the age of 60. Mayor Morse said that he spent a lot of time knocking on doors and building credibility around the city. Early on, his team raised about $60,000 and met as many people face-to-face. Mayor Morse won the primary election by 1 vote, 2,023 to 2,022! Mayor Morse developed shirts about the win, all in an effort to build support and help with the campaign.

In the general election on November 8th, Morse won with 53% of the vote, or about 600 votes over the incumbent. “In Holyoke that meant a lot, we have really big challenges, only 43% of high school students graduate, we needed a mayor with vision,” he continues, “As mayor, my job is to really be chief marketing officer for the City.” Mayor Morse shared one of his campaign videos, which is a compelling video that shows his passion for the community and the City of Holyoke. The video can be found below:

Morse said some of his priorities are in education, especially in improving high school graduate and literacy rates. Morse said he has established literacy centers across the city. Also, the City has just received a grant from United Way to work towards improving rates. Another area is economic development, Mayor Morse is hoping to bring in new business into the city. Morse is working to improve incentives to bring in new business.

Morse is working with dozens of educational institutions to help energize the city, and is also working to develop a senior center in the heart of downtown. The city will relaunch the city website in November, also offers the ability to pay taxes online, and offers Spanish lessons for city workers. Morse also worked to implement a needle exchange program in an effort to reduce the transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C. Finally, Morse is working on a 14.5 million public library downtown. Other initiatives include a canal walk, restoration of passenger rails to bring people in and out of Holyoke. The route goes from Montreal all the way to Holyoke.

Morse also spoke about being young in government. Morse said “We have been able to re-energize people in City Hall,” Morse continued, “I’ve been able to bring in all sorts of people who want to improve the City of Holyoke.” The Mayor advised that it is extremely important to form a team that you trust and that is talented. Morse stated that this is important in any professional setting.

Mayor Morse encompasses a lot of what Next Generation of Government is about. He was a perfect way to close out the day, re-energizing the audience about the role they play as public servants and the incredible work they do serving the nation.

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