By Rebecca Lisi
This Election Day, Holyoke voters will have a critical vote before them with the reduction of two at-large seats on the City Council. The elimination of these two seats means that there will be upsets this election, as two sitting at-large Councilors are likely to lose their seats. More than the Mayor’s race, the Council at-large race is the one to watch this year.
The at-large race will be the true litmus test of where Hoyoke politics are heading over the course of the next few years. The at-large selection will have a tremendous impact on both the ideological make up and productive capacity of the City Council, depending on who gets elected.
My first campaigns ignited the conversation on how Holyoke could use “Smart Growth” to redevelop the downtown. “Smart Growth” is simply an approach to economic development that allows us to preserve what we value most about the city- the city’s historic architecture and the neighborhoods downtown. Today, we see the success of this policy with projects like Gateway City Arts, the Chestnut Park Apartments (Holyoke Catholic) and the Lyman Terrance Renovation.
My expertise in working on zoning and land-use has been on full display in my leadership on the Ordinance Committee. For multiple development projects, such as the Gary Rome expansion and the increased parking for the YMCA, I was able to find unique, project-based solutions that struck a balance between the city’s economic interests and the neighborhoods’ quality of life. Economic development is a priority for Holyoke, but should never come at the expense of our neighborhood residents. My door-to-door campaigns have always been a way for me to listen to the voters and understand our communities’ needs.
It’s important to me that Holyoke remains a place where families can ‘make it.’ Economic development is a key focus for our city because it affects us all and has a direct impact on our tax base. I’m working to ensure that our city continues to be affordable, accessible, and appreciates in value. I’m proud that my husband, Damian, and I are raising our son here and that together, we are committed to Holyoke’s brighter future.
This is an important time for Holyoke. Treating it as business as usual — or politics as usual — would be an opportunity lost.
Rebecca Lisi is running for re-election for Holyoke councilor at-large.