Endorsed Council
Candidates By Ward

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 1 ward candidate depending on the ward you live in.
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Ward 1


Running for City Council has already been a pleasure and a blessing -- another opportunity to get out in the community, listen to people’s stories, and learn. The Mayor and City Council need to focus on three important priorities: public safety (we all deserve a safe Holyoke for our home), education (key for jobs and to the green building and energy revolution), and public services (if infrastructure and services aren’t reliable, people won’t want to want to live, work, and hire here). Holyoke was built for and with renewable energy and can be at the forefront of America’s transition to green energy. Our many empty buildings in Holyoke need to be repurposed, and I will craft and present a green building incentive program. I also want to ensure that the City Council sees the rich cultural fabric of Holyoke as an opportunity for community and economic development. 


I grew up in Puerto Rico, moved to Holyoke, and learned English as an adult. I’m an automobile mechanic, an organizer with Wayfinders, and a volunteer for Homework House. My wife and I are active in our local church, and I keep in close touch with my three children in Puerto Rico. In 2014 after a fire destroyed my home and identity documents, I experienced homelessness for two months I’ll never forget -- the experience pushes me to work harder to help those in our community who are less fortunate. City government must remember who it serves: the citizens of Holyoke.


Ward 3


My goal is to make local government more responsive, responsible and respectful, and by doing so increase resident engagement, ensure we have broader representation on City Council, and bring a new and innovative voice to the process. I want municipal government to become something residents want to participate in, rather than something inaccessible, contentious, and difficult to follow. I’m running because I can be the catalyst for this change.


In 2017 I created a Ward 3 Neighborhood Association group. In addition, I am a long-term member of the Holyoke Local Cultural Council and serve as the Treasurer. I am a proud union member (1199 SEIU) and have been involved with a number of initiatives in Holyoke, including Wayfinder’s (formerly HAP Housing) Resident Leadership Program, voter outreach and education, and protecting free speech in the city. I’m an artist and educator who brings compassion and innovative thinking to my work; it’s an approach I believe our municipal government needs more of, not less. We don’t have to have City Council meetings that are four hours long and difficult to follow; we need a local government that directly and efficiently responds to the needs of the people it serves.

Find out more about Anne Thalheimer and her campaign: Anne Thalheimer


Ward 4


As a first-generation college grad and American citizen I have a unique appreciation for the struggles experienced by immigrants, people of color, and low-income households. I have lived in Holyoke on and off since the mid 90s. With struggle, a bit of luck and a first-time homeowner program, I bought my home in 2005. I am a repeat offender when it comes to requests for traffic studies, needs for crosswalks, speed traps, and parking enforcement. I regularly ask why Holyoke has a hard time taking care of basics. I don’t understand why there aren’t more public trash receptacles, why our parks are in disarray, why we don’t take advantage of ticketing revenue from speeding commuters. I don’t understand why it took years to update the crosswalk to Stop & Shop, or why there is no crosswalk on Dwight to the church. I don’t understand why the owners of run down and empty buildings are not held accountable for keeping their properties clean and maintained. I’m running to represent Ward 4 because many of my neighbors have expressed the same frustrations and would like to see our Ward prioritized the same as others. I’m running so that I can understand the processes and procedures of city government to continue to address these concerns.

Find out more about Kocayne Givner and her campaign: Kocayne Givner


Ward 5


I’m in this race to stand up for working families like the one I grew up in. It is unfair that families can work hard and still struggle to make ends meet. I have two sons attending McMahon school and I volunteer there regularly. I’ve seen how amazing the teachers and staff are and how they aren’t provided with the tools they need to ensure that every student gets the education they deserve. At the city level, I’ve watched as our leaders fail to prioritize protecting the environment for our children’s future. Holyoke has already taken in many climate refugees after Hurricane Maria, worsened by global warming, devastated Puerto Rico. I was especially disheartened to see City Council vote down a grant for $275,000 to study green energy in Holyoke last summer. We should be leading the way in fighting climate change and preparing for its consequences.


I’ve also seen the power of a community coming together to help one another. I grew up in a Habitat For Humanity house. My dad got better wages and safer working conditions when he joined a union. It was only after joining the union that we were finally able to get braces. Coming together as a community can make a real difference in the lives of everyday working Holyoke families, and we must fight for a brighter future for all of our kids. That’s the leadership I will bring to City Hall.

Find out more about Guy O'Donnell and his campaign: Guy O'Donnell


Ward 6


One of the skills I am most proud of is my focus on communication. Even a casual observer of our City Council notices that this is a struggle way too often. It’s an issue between councilors, between the Council and other city staff and board members that we need to work with, and even between the Council and members of the public. When I would watch meetings before I got elected, I was often embarrassed by what I saw. It was a complaint I would often hear from others I spoke to when I ran my first time. I have never expected to agree with everyone all of the time, but I believe the best way for our city government to be most effective is by hearing people out, working to understand where someone is coming from, and finding ways to work together whenever possible. I think this approach has also helped me when trying to find solutions for the concerns that the people I represent bring to me. The best part of the past four years serving on the City Council has been the opportunity to serve people directly, whether it is by filing an order on their behalf, connecting them with city departments, or just being that someone they can vent to. I am running again because our city government has more room to grow and more ways to be effective. I am excited to be an important part of that as we look ahead to a City Council that will have many new faces next January.

Find out more about Juan Anderson Burgos and his campaign: Juan Anderson Burgos

Meet the Other Endorsed Candidates: