Mayor Alex B.

Morse Second Inaugural Address I would like to start by thanking our wonderful master of ceremonies Kathy Anderson, someone who has worked tirelessly on our city’s behalf for many years, and who has been a close ally and friend to me over the course of my first term. I’d like to thank Bill Fuqua and the members of the DPW staff for getting everything set up this morning, and more importantly, for getting us out of the snow this past week. I would like to both thank and congratulate our new City Clerk Brenna MurphyMcGee. Given our work together during this time of transition, I can already tell that our two offices will have the best working relationship they’ve had in years. I look forward to helping you bring about much-needed improvements to our city government. I congratulate the members of the City Council and the School Committee, and I look forward to the work we will do together over the course of this new term. I would like to extend a special thank you to City Treasurer Jon Lumbra, who was sworn in today to serve another four-year term. Over the past four years, he has done more to improve the city’s finances than anyone else. The City of Holyoke is lucky for his work as Treasurer, and I am extraordinarily grateful to have him head my administration’s finance team. I would like to thank my staff in the mayor’s office for your hard work over the past two years – particularly the two who were there since day-one, Tessa MurphyRomboletti and Nilka Ortiz. And of course, I have to thank the most important people in my life: my family. You have all been with me every step of the way. It goes without saying that I couldn’t be standing here today without your love and support. My fellow citizens of Holyoke: As we gather here today, we once again affirm our unwavering commitment to our community. We reflect on the successes and shortcomings of our past, and on the great work that remains for us to do. We honor our better history, and prepare ourselves to meet the challenges of our time with the resilient spirit that has long defined our proud city. More than 150 years ago, the work began to transform this small New England village into one of the nation’s first planned industrial cities. Today, we can see the legacy of that work all around us – in the canals, the former mill buildings, the numerous public investments enabled by years of prosperity.

Those early families, laborers, and entrepreneurs who put our city on the map saw in Holyoke everything they needed to leave their mark on the world. Right here in Holyoke, they saw everything they needed to be an example to the rest of the nation. And that’s what they did: combining hard work, creative thinking, and commitment to something larger than themselves, they transformed their moment in history, and gave us the Paper City. Now, I don’t need to tell you that recent decades were not always kind to Holyoke, or other cities like it – that the American economy’s turn away from industrialism left our city struggling where it had once thrived. I don’t need to tell you that our parents and grandparents saw a different Holyoke; nor do I need to tell you that the Holyoke we want for our children and grandchildren is not the one we see. Too many of our citizens are left with too little. Too many of our citizens are struggling – struggling to find work, or to get an education, or to raise their kids in safe, vibrant neighborhoods. But I can tell you today that a better Holyoke is within reach. When I first took this oath two years ago, I discussed many of the great and complicated challenges our city faced. We knew then, as we do now, that none of those challenges would be resolved in one term. But we also knew that we couldn’t let the difficulty of our task exempt us from action. We got to work. Together, Holyokers from all walks of life – Holyokers who voted for me and Holyokers who did not – worked toward a brighter future. Together, we prioritized early literacy for our students and welcomed a new superintendent of schools. Together, we expanded community policing – restoring relationships between our Police Department and our citizens, and making the city the safest it’s been in decades. Together, we attracted new businesses and helped others expand. Together, we ushered in a new era of civic pride and community engagement. And together, we sent the clear the message that the City of Holyoke was making a comeback. Through all the work we’ve done together – both during my administration and during those of my predecessors – we have laid the foundation for Holyoke’s renewal. If we are now willing to combine our own hard work, our own creative thinking, and our own commitment to something larger than ourselves, we will seize and transform our own moment. The Paper City will again be an example to the rest of the nation for a new generation, a new century of American cities. For our city to thrive, earlier generations of Holyokers anticipated changes in the American economy, and tapped into the enormous potential of the paper industry. Today, we recognize that the knowledge-driven economy of the future relies on technology, creativity, and innovation. For Holyoke to compete in a global economy, we must maintain and expand our focus in these areas. We must nurture our own

local entrepreneurs, support the new ideas being generated by our own people, and welcome those who want to be a part of what’s happening here. Already, Holyoke’s Innovation District is only one of a handful of such districts throughout the country, and it serves as a model for our whole region and beyond. Of course, none of us is so naïve as to suggest that Holyoke’s economy can be revitalized by the creative economy alone; in the short-term, we will need to think strategically about ways to increase both jobs and revenue in our city. But we must be rid of the assumption that Holyoke’s economic salvation must come from an outside savior, or that our economic success relies on bringing any single industry or company to our community. Like our forebears, we must embrace the vast potential of the Center City. Throughout the region, people and businesses are seeking what Holyoke uniquely has to offer. We have access to low-cost, green energy. We have high-quality, usable space. And we have you, the people of Holyoke, who invest so much of your own time, effort, and creativity in our city. That is how modern economies flourish – through the collaboration and the exchange of ideas between passionate, devoted citizens. The people who call Holyoke home can feel the sense of possibility in the air. You aren’t waiting for City Hall to act; you’re taking Holyoke’s future into your own hands. Those of us on this stage today must be prepared to take our direction from you. Where the city government can further empower our citizens, and bolster this homegrown renewal, it will; where the city government now impedes that renewal, it will get out of the way. We will let Holyoke make Holyoke again. The Holyoke we will forge together will be a city that makes things again. But it will also be a city that does so much more. It will be a city that protects all of its citizens, no matter where they come from, or how long they have been here. It will be a city that guarantees a world-class education to all of its children. It will be a city with a vibrant, diverse, and densely-populated downtown. It will be a city where people want to live, and work, and raise their families. It will be a city where everyone feels that they belong, and that everyone is proud to call home. While we are on the road to realizing these goals, we have not yet reached our destination. We have more work to do. Surely, these are goals we all share. These are the values that should guide our actions through this new term and beyond. And yet, over the course of this term, we should expect to disagree with one another – sometimes passionately. If you’re from Holyoke, you know how passionate our politics tend to be. But when disagreements arise, let us remember that these shared hopes lie beneath even our fiercest debates. Let us remember that our common love for this community far transcends the political division of any given time, or any given election cycle.

Whether I earned your vote this past November or not, I am committed to being your mayor. I hear your voices. My door is always open. And whether your preferred candidates are on this stage today or not, we would do well to remember what today is really about. Because today is not about the last election, or even the next election: it’s about the next generation, and the one after, and the one after. It’s about what we can all do together to leave our mark on the world, and to leave our beloved community better than when we found out it. That is work we can only do together. The politics are temporary; the task of improving our community endures. Indeed, but a few of us could name any of Holyoke’s prominent politicians from the early days of those Paper Mills. Perhaps fewer of us could name any of the many laborers whose sweat and blood built our Center City, or their families who took up residence here. But we can see their legacy. The work they did speaks for them. Holyoke, we are made for this moment. We will choose the type of city we will be. The choices we make today will shape our city’s future for generations to come. And in fifty, to a hundred, to a hundred-fifty years from now, perhaps few Holyokers will remember my name, or the names of any of us who take our oaths today, or the names of any of the Holyokers who toil every day that this city might achieve its full potential. But what our future generations of Holyokers will remember is the work we did together – the work that will speak for us. And like so many generations before them, they will be proud to call the Paper City their home. Holyoke, we are up to this task. So let’s get to work. Thank you.

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