Endorsed At Large
Council Candidates

HOLYOKE FORWARD enthusiastically endorses the following candidates. We share statements from the candidates about why they are running and how they plan to build a better future for all of Holyoke.

You can vote for up to 6 at large candidates and 1 ward candidate.
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ISRAEL RIVERA

At Large

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My campaign is focused on community, education, and infrastructure. Currently, I manage Family and Community Engagement for the Holyoke Public Schools. I'm also Chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission and serve on Holyoke’s Community Preservation Act Committee, reviewing applications and making recommendations for key public investments. Growing up in the Flats, I experienced and saw struggles firsthand. As an ex-felon, I understand how a lack of access to housing, employment, and political power causes Holyokers to fall through the cracks of an unjust system. I’ve used my personal redemption story to help create real opportunities for young people, getting youth back to school and into meaningful employment opportunities by cultivating mentor networks to expand their horizons. I’ve worked at Career Point with formerly incarcerated youth, as a Community Engagement Specialist in the Flats through OneHolyoke CDC, and now as a mentor at STEM/Dean Tech. I also organize community dinners, neighborhood clean-ups, and youth sports tournaments. I earned a degree from Holyoke Community College, got a Bachelor’s in sociology from UMass Amherst, and am now pursuing a Master’s from the UMass School of Public Policy.

 

My wife Jenny and I are homeowners in Holyoke’s Ward 3 -- our growing family is invested in this city and its transformation. I support economic development and fiscal responsibility. I aim to engage residents and inspire community buy-in, with the goal of building a healthier, safer, and more vibrant Holyoke for all seven wards. My vision is backed by persistence and anchored in accountability.

Find out more about Israel Rivera and his campaign: Israel Rivera

JENNIFER KEITT

At Large

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Born and raised in Holyoke, I work as a paralegal with over 20 years of experience in the legal field. I have lived in 6 of the 7 Wards in the city of Holyoke. I'm as comfortable above Northampton Street as I am below Northampton Street. My city involvement began with the schools. We need to take back our schools. I will assist, whenever possible, in fulfilling the requirements of our turnaround plan to return control back to the city of Holyoke. I continue to be involved in our community and am now looking to be elected City Councilor At Large to bring my education, experience and community commitment to the city of Holyoke on a larger scale. I'm ready to work.

One of the most significant issues is communication. There should be standards everyone should follow, and we should start there. Obviously, there are other enormous issues that need our full attention, including houselessness, OUD, trash, etc., but without better communication those issues will continue to not be addressed as effectively as they should be.

Find out more about Jennifer Keitt and her campaign: Jennifer Keitt

JOSE LUIS MALDONADO VELEZ

At Large

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The platform for my campaign stands on three pillars – technology, infrastructure, and unity. I believe that addressing these three issues will aid in the deeper issues of our city, such as mental health and drug abuse, lack of opportunities in education and in the workforce, and lack of access to safe and affordable housing. I've been a Holyoker my whole life, born in Providence Hospital and raised in the Flats with a strong connection to my Puerto Rican roots. As a teen, I was involved in the community through organizations like the Holyoke Youth Commission that showed me the importance of civic engagement and how impactful local politics truly are. I have witnessed firsthand the inconsistencies when it comes to city services depending what ward you're in.

 

We deserve a society that works for all members of it, and unfortunately that's not the case in our city today. Many city systems are inaccessible, either because of outdated processes or language barriers. Our infrastructure is crumbling, both physically with collapsing buildings, and virtually with outdated technology. As all these problems continue, we have leaders that would rather continue to divide the city than unite all of us. I believe that Holyoke deserves better. We cannot fix the problems of today with the solutions from yesterday; it's time to bring Holyoke to the next century.

Find out more about Jose Luis Maldonado Velez and his campaign: Jose Luis Maldonado Velez

PAOLA FERRARIO

At Large

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I'm running for city council because I love Holyoke, I see a great future for it, and as a private citizen I can't do enough to help us get there. I was encouraged to run by people who share that vision, and who believe that I have the skills to guide Holyoke into the 21st century as a model green city where people of all races and social backgrounds aspire to live.

 

Our most significant issue is the stagnation of our local government. Our leadership keeps trying to address problems with tools and approaches that were beginning to fail a quarter of a century ago. That’s how we get decisions like the sale of Lynch School to the lowest bidder, via a marketing process that discouraged proposals for re-use of the architecturally significant building, to make room for strip-mall development. It’s how we get decisions to pass over novel proposals for use of ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds, on the grounds that our current leaders aren’t already familiar with them. The list could go on forever, and it’s not going to change until we change our decision makers.

Find out more about Paola Ferrario and her campaign: Paola Ferrario

TESSA MURPHY-ROMBOLETTI

At Large

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I am excited to be running for City Council At Large this fall to further contribute to making my hometown a better place. Currently, I'm the executive director of a nonprofit here in Holyoke that helps underrepresented individuals start and grow their business. I serve as the vice chair for the Board of Directors for both MassHire and the Holyoke Economic Development Industrial Corporation (HEDIC), and I've been a member of the St. Patrick's Parade Committee since 2012. All these experiences have inspired me to run for City Councilor At-Large, because I believe we need a more equitable and efficient government that actually creates change for our residents - one that encourages growth and represents the best interests of everyone in our community.

 

I am one of the few candidates that has ever actually worked full-time as a non-elected servant within City Hall, and I believe I have a unique perspective of what works and what doesn't work in city government. I've seen the impact that a dysfunctional City Council has on city services, and am ready to bring professionalism and decorum back to the City Council Chambers. I'm running because I think it's time for new voices at the table, with new ideas and perspectives.

Find out more about Tessa Murphy-Romboletti and her campaign: Tessa Murphy-Romboletti

Meet the Other Endorsed Candidates: