Gary: What would you want your first job to be after college? Teacher? Engineer? Doctor? Well, how about mayor?
Alex Morse: Never once did I listen to the folks who said, ‘you’re too young, you haven’t paid your dues.’
This has always been about the future of the city of Holyoke!
Gary: At only 22-year-old, Alex Morse is the mayor-elect of Holyoke, Massachusetts. He won with 53% of the vote.
“Morse for mayor! Morse for mayor!”
Gary: Alex was just a senior in college when he announced his candidacy in January. And because of that, he thinks some of his opponents may have underestimated him.
Alex: Yeah, I think they did, because of my age. They definitely took me for granted.
Gary: Alex grew up in Holyoke. His dad was a meat packer and mom a nurse. He is youngest of three boys, and at age 11, he joined the city’s youth commission. At 15, he was class president. He just graduated from Brown University in May.
The first change on Alex’s agenda as mayor.
Alex: People need to know we exist.
Gary: Holyoke is one of the poorest cities in Massachusetts. It is a working class town with a diverse population, but nearly 30% of its residents live below the federal poverty line. Unemployment is higher than the national average, it is at 11%. But he wants to change that. Alex thinks it is a prime place to create jobs.
Alex: We have some of the cheapest utility rates in the entire state and all across New England. Eighty percent of our energy is renewable.
Gary: And he wants to create a vibrant downtown, including renovating a theatre.
Alex: We’re close to renovating the Victory Theater, restoring it so that within a couple of years people can return to downtown Holyoke and enjoy a show with their friends and family.
Gary: Alex takes office in January, and it is a two-year term. He said he would like to serve as mayor for the next eight to ten years.
Alex: I think of my age as an incredible asset in that I haven’t been around for twenty, thirty years. I’m not beholden to special interests. I haven’t been around long enough to owe anybody a political favor. People often say young people are the leaders of tomorrow but they’re in fact — they are the leaders of today.
Gary: Gary Hamilton, Channel One News.