First elected in 2011 as the youngest mayor in Holyoke, Massachusetts, Alex Morse again made history in the Paper City Tuesday.
The 28-year-old comfortably won reelection to a fourth term Tuesday.
He will be sworn in next January to the first four-year mayoral term in Holyoke history after voters approved the change two years ago.
Unofficial final results Tuesday night showed Morse defeated former city councilor Jay Ferreira 57-42 percent. Morse was first elected in 2011 at the age of 22.
Speaking to about 200 supporters, who cheered and chanted " Four more years," at his election night party at Gateway City Arts, Morse thanked his family and campaign volunteers and pledged to pursue a “progressive agenda” with the help of some newly elected City Councilors, several of whom stood onstage with Morse.
" I see a lot of close friends in the audience and people who have always been there for me. It has not been an easy six years, but it is because of you we've been able to move this city forward," Morse said to cheers and applause.
It was a jubilant night for Morse’s supporters, who have had to sweat out much closer outcomes in the mayor’s previous campaigns. Mimi Wielgosz danced around the room waving a Morse campaign sign.
" Because of him energizing me and others, I volunteer for anything and everything in Holyoke," she said.
Despite having a significant fundraising advantage over his challenger this time, Morse said he took nothing for granted.
" We knocked on thousands of doors, talked with thousands of voters about our progress and our plans, so when people would say 'Oh, mayor you have nothing to worry about', I would say 'Yes we do' and we are not going to take a single vote for granted," said Morse.
In an interview, Morse said his priorities for Holyoke include more affordable housing and economic development. He said the public perception of Holyoke is changing from that of a downtrodden old mill city to one that is pursuing growth opportunities in high tech, arts and culture, and the burgeoning legal marijuana industry in Massachusetts.
Monday night, hundreds of people came to a job fair hosted by GTI (Green Thumb Industries) - Massachusetts for the medical marijuana cultivation operation the company plans to put on the second floor of an old paper mill on Appleton Street.
" We have over a million square feet of vacant mill space in the city, and given our cheap cost of doing business and cheap electricity we are really in the perfect location for the industry to grow and cultivate the product here in Holyoke," said Morse.
" There is GTI and other companies that will be moving forward on their plans. If we can renovate and repurpose old mill buildings to now become job-producing factories on a product that has a great return on investment then I think we need to take full advantage of that."
Morse was the only mayor and one of few elected officials in Massachusetts to endorse last year’s ballot initiative that legalized recreational marijuana.
The next mayor of Agawam will be the city’s recently retired school superintendent Bill Sapelli. He was elected Tuesday with 68 percent of the vote to succeed longtime mayor Richard Cohen, who decided not to run for reelection.
In Easthampton, where the incumbent mayor also stepped aside, attorney Nicole LaChapelle had a narrow victory over 21-year City Councilor Joy Winnie.
Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz was reelected to a third term with a commanding 79 percent of the vote.