Friday, July 1, 2016

I Wish You Enough

Recently I overheard a Father and daughter in their last moments together at the airport.

They had announced the departure. Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the Father said:

"I love you, and I wish you enough."

The daughter replied, "Dad, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Dad."

They kissed and the daughter left. The Father walked over to the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see he wanted and needed to cry.  I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he welcomed me by asking, "Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?"

"Yes, I have," I replied.  "Forgive me for asking, but why is this a for ever good-bye?"

"I am old, and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is - the next trip back will be for my funeral," he said.

"When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, 'I wish you enough.' May I ask what that means?"

He began to smile. "That's a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone."

He paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail, and he smiled even more.

"When we said, 'I wish you enough,' we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them."

Then turning toward me, he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory.

"I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.
I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good- bye."

He then began to cry and walked away.

They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them; but then an entire life to forget them.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Holyoke City Council Ignores Voters -- Appoints Their Own Candidate


Earlier this evening, the Holyoke City Council selected a replacement for Councilor Jennifer Chateauneuf, who resigned last month.  As you know, Councilors are exclusively elected by the voters to represent them, but tonight the City Council decided to put their own individual wishes ahead of the voters' wishes.  In fact, 8 of the Councilors entirely ignored the voters' wishes.  That should raise an alarm for every single Holyoke resident.

Mimi Panitch, who placed 9th in a field of 16 (the first 8 being elected), was the next-highest vote-getter in the recent November election and would normally have been in line for the vacated position.  3,000 Holyoke residents chose her as the first runner-up in November but, tonight, 8 of the 13 Councilors present refused to cast even one single vote for her.  Instead, they decided to play "politics" -- ultimately appointing a former colleague who wasn't even on the November ballot.  Ironically, it is some of those same Councilors who will be the first to decry the playing of politics by others. 

I (and others) had intended to make public comments at the start of the meeting, which is customary, but for some reason Council President, Kevin Jourdain, instead recommended that the Council alter their schedule and take up the vote first -- preventing public comment until after the voting had been completed.

Unable to speak as I intended until after the vote, I had to change my words to past tense, but they were just as sharply pointed as they would have been had I been allowed to speak ahead of the vote.  This is, essentially, what I said to the City Council at the conclusion of the vote:


"The Council has conducted the process of replacing Jennifer Chateauneuf as if this is a hired position.  This is NOT a hired position.  Not one of you is hired.  Every one of you has been chosen by the voters, and ONLY by the voters.

Only the voters get to decide who they want to represent them. 

How is it, then, that some of you decided to usurp that authority, in an attempt to appoint your friends or political allies to this Council?  The voters have already told you who their pick is, but some of you chose to play "politics", instead.  Voters didn't elect you so you can replace their choices, with yours.  The Council's job tonight wasn't to pick and choose ... it was to ensure that the will of the voters, in choosing their representatives, was followed.  You failed.  And you failed deliberately.

You don't get to dismiss the election results simply because they don't jibe with your own politics.  You don't have that right.

Sure, you may have established a rule that says you can ignore the voters' wishes, but you take that step at the risk of diminishing the credibility of this entire body.  Was it worth it?

There were two ways you could have gotten this right tonight:
            1) Either go by the November election results
            2) or hold a special election

Instead, you decided to play "politics". 

Shame on every one of you who acted on the belief that your vote outranks the votes of thousands of Holyoke voters."


Footnote:  the 8 Councilors who completely ignored the voters' wishes, refusing to cast even one single vote for Mimi Panitch were:  David Bartley;  Dan Bresnahan;  Howard Greaney;  Kevin Jourdain;  Todd McGee;  Joe McGiverin;  Nelson Roman;  and Linda Vacon. 

For the record it should be mentioned that Councilor Peter Tallman voted for Mimi Panitch, the next-highest vote-getter, on every one of the 13 ballots and Michael Sullivan voted for her on the first 11 ballots.  Gladys Lebron-Martinez and Rebecca Lisi voted for her on 7 ballots and Jossie Valentin on 6.



Sunday, February 28, 2016

Life under Bernie Sanders vs. life under Donald Trump



This is What Your Tax Dollar Gets You
In a Bernie Sanders Society
 

8 Guaranteed full health care for all

8 A guaranteed state or community college education for everyone who is willing to apply themselves (resulting in a more educated and more globally competitive American workforce)

8 A livable minimum pay wage allowing every working American the ability to become self-sufficient

8 Rebuilding of America's crumbling infrastructure -- roads, bridges, dams, railways, power grids, and more -- creating 13 million good-paying jobs

8 Environmental stewardship including seriously addressing global warming

8 More fairness, equality and opportunity for all Americans

8 Better protection of our natural resources focusing on water pollution; air pollution; soil and chemical pollution

8 The end of politicians (and laws) that are bought and paid for by corporations, lobbyists and billionaires

8 A government whose job is to serve and protect Americans, not persecute them

8 Shoring up of the Social Security safety net and ensuring its viability for generations to come

8 More economic equality

8 Pursuit of policy, not politics

8 Freedom of religion and religious belief

8 A new focus on early childhood education

8 Paid sick leave

8 Paid family leave for parents of newborn children

8 Strict regulations on investments banks and related firms so taxpayers never again get stuck with footing the bill for wild, and irresponsible, Wall Street speculation
 
       For all of Bernie's policies, follow this link: http://feelthebern.org/
 

 

By Contrast, This is What Your Tax Dollar Gets You
In a Donald Trump Society
 
M Authoritarianism

M Persecution of Americans based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, gender

M More costly wars and military actions and interventions

M Trade war with China

M Economic wars with everyone

M Mass deportation of people based on race, ethnicity and religion

M Religious intolerance

M Border walls

M More bullying, less diplomacy

M More pointing of fingers and passing of blame

M Less civility

M More economic inequality

M Distrust of each other

M No action on global warming

M Intolerance of opposing views
 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Why I'm Voting for Bernie Sanders

Bernie walks the walk and he genuinely understands

the plight of average Americans. 


If I had to pick one word that embodies the essence of what Bernie Sanders stands for, that word would be:
"Fairness"

Bernie believes in fairness.  He believes in equality.  And he believes in the justness of a cause. 
Every one of us knows our political system is rigged to represent the interests of the wealthy, the powerful and the well-connected long before it represents what's best for us.  Every one of us also knows that this is not what our founding fathers intended.  But the majority of today's politicians practice this kind of "limited representation government" and they couldn't care less what we think.  The game they play is about what's best for them, or for their political party.  And that's what has drawn me to Bernie -- he doesn't stoop to that level.  He has been unwavering in standing up for what is right, what is fair and what is just.
 

From the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's, right through today, Bernie Sanders has walked the walk.  As the son of a partially-schooled Jewish/Polish immigrant who lost most of his family in the Holocaust, and whose struggles to provide for his family created significant household stress, Bernie witnessed the reality of how uncertain life can be. 
Perhaps those early experiences explain why he readily empathizes with the plight of others:  of the poor;  of veterans;  students;  working-class families;  oppressed minorities;  struggling seniors;  gays and lesbians;  women's equality;  immigrants;  the undereducated, underpaid or unemployed;  the sick and uninsured;  and of our children and grandchildren who are facing a planet which may not be as inhabitable for them as it has been for us. 

For 6 decades, Bernie has stood up for the underdog -- fighting to level the playing field and to give people a barrier-free, equal opportunity to achieve and succeed.  First as an activist, then as a Mayor and -- for the past 16 years -- as a member of Congress, Bernie has a long record making a difference in people's lives.
 

What Bernie Stands For:
--  Bernie believes that America must act on Global Warming and -- for the sake of future generations -- we must act now.

--  He believes that the Federal Minimum Wage should be increased to $15/hour so that anyone who works 40 hours a week shouldn't be forced to live their lives in poverty.
--  Bernie believes that Government, and the laws and regulations we live under, should not be for sale to the highest bidder.  He believes that the Supreme Court's 2010 "Citizens United" ruling, allowing billionaires and corporations to spend unlimited money to influence the outcome of elections, corrupts our entire democratic political system and should be overturned.  As just one consequence of that ruling, the Koch brothers have pledged to spend nearly $800 million dollars to alter the outcomes of the 2016 elections.  Whose best interest do you think the politicians receiving that money will represent?  Ours?  Or the Koch's? 

--  He believes that American citizens should never again have to foot the bill to bail out another collapsed bank or financial institution -- and that if a bank is too big to fail, that means it is too big to exist.  He advocates splitting up those banks which are currently considered to be a potential threat to taxpayers and, because of their size, pose a potential threat to the economy.
--  Bernie believes that America needs to have a sensible, and fair, immigration policy that keeps us safe and secure, without treating immigrants like 2nd class citizens or regarding them as our enemies.

-- He wants to rescind the corrupted tax laws that allow greedy corporations to avoid paying taxes by hiding their assets in the Cayman Islands -- or by moving their headquarters and jobs to other countries in order to escape paying their fair share of taxes.
-- Bernie believes that the vast wealth and income inequality in America today is the great moral issue of our time.  The top 1/10 of 1 percent (0.1%) of Americans now own as much as the bottom 90%.  Over half of all the income created in the United States since the Wall Street crash has gone to just the top 1%.  Yet, at the same time, the United States has one of the highest childhood poverty rates in the world.  This is immoral on every level.   

--  He believes that making college affordable for all Americans not only levels the educational playing field, it also makes American workers more competitive in our global economy.  He further believes that the government should not be making a profit on student loans;  that existing student loans should be able to be refinanced, just like your mortgage;  and that state universities and community colleges should be tuition-free so that a lack of money doesn't lock a worthy student out of a college education and the lifetime of opportunities that a college degree provides.
--  For his entire political career, Bernie has been unaffiliated with either major political party, remaining an Independent  and preferring to answer to no one but his own conscience and moral sense of right and wrong.  He consistently puts policy above politics, saying what he believes -- even when it may not be politically expedient to do so.

--  As one of the poorest members of Congress, Bernie obviously hasn't used his position in government to enrich himself.  He's not a millionaire and he has always believed that being elected to represent one's constituents is a public service, not a wealth-building opportunity.
--  He believes that government should represent all citizens, not just wealthy families, special interests and corporations -- and the lobbyists they employ.

--  Bernie believes that the air we breathe and the water we drink are precious, and that we need to treat them like the limited resources that they are -- and that our kids and grandkids are counting on us to preserve and protect the planet we live on and depend upon for our survival.
--  He believes that, in America, access to quality health care should be a right for every man, woman and child -- just like it is in nearly every other major country around the world.

--  Bernie believes it is imperative that we preserve Social Security's safety net so that every American can be allowed to retire with the dignity and respect they have earned and deserve.
-- He believes that Medicare should be allowed to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices, saving taxpayers close to a half billion dollars annually;  that Americans should be able to legally buy their drugs from Canada when they can get the same drugs at lower prices;  that it should be illegal for brand name drug makers to pay off generic drug manufacturers to keep lower priced versions of their drugs off the American market;  and that there should be stronger penalties for fraud and for price gouging the American public for medically necessary prescription drugs.

--  He believes that costly wars and military invasions should be our last option, not our first.  And he believes that terrorism cannot be fought solely by the American military;  that we must engage the world's nations -- including Arab nations -- in combating terrorism wherever it exists.  He feels the United States should not be the "policemen of the world".
-- Bernie believes that wealthy Americans, Wall Street speculators and large corporations should be required to pay their fair share of taxes instead of hiring expensive lobbyists to create loopholes in our tax laws that shift the burden onto average citizens and small business owners.

-- He believes that voting is a right granted by The Constitution and that recent Voter Suppression laws which were designed and implemented by partisan politicians in order to prevent or hinder certain groups of people from voting, are an affront to our Democracy and must be overturned. 
-- Bernie believes in banning assault weapons and increasing background checks.  Interestingly, he has been the only candidate to differentiate between the purpose of guns used in rural settings and those used in urban settings.
 

Bernie has never been your typical politician.  Is it any wonder that the words people most commonly use to describe him are "genuine", "sincere", "honorable", "integrity", "trustworthy" and "truthful"?  How many politicians do you know who can lay claim to that?
Leaders set the tone for all of us.  While the Republican candidates talk about who they hate, Bernie talks about giving people a level playing field, the tools they need, and an opportunity to succeed -- ensuring that everyone, regardless of their background, has a fair shot at the American dream.

During this election, I'm not just picking a leader for the country, I'm picking someone who represents what America stands for.  That makes me think back to the final 6 words from the pledge we all learned to recite as children:  "with liberty . . . and justice . . . for all". 
Isn't it ironic that it should be the self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist whose actions for the past 6 decades have personified -- better than any other candidate -- exactly what those words mean?

"With liberty, and justice, for all."
After all these years, I still care about what those words represent. 

That's why I'm voting for Bernie Sanders.
 

John P. Epstein
 
To learn more about where Bernie stands on the issues:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Will ISIS pick our next President?

It occurs to me that the timing of terrorist attacks - whether successful or unsuccessful -- could easily have a significant influence on the election of our next President.

Take, for example, the anti-Islam sentiment stirred up by Donald Trump and other GOP candidates over the past few days.  If ISIS timed an attack (or an attempted attack) two weeks before the 2016 election, do any one of us think that would not have an effect on the outcome? 

Sure, we'd like to be able to say that we are smarter than that and above being so easily manipulated, but take a look at the numerous voter polls conducted in the past few days which overwhelmingly show that Americans do not want to accept Syrian refugees.  How would that polling have looked just a week or two earlier?  Recent events have an outsized influence on elections.  What happened this week carries far more weight than what happened last month or last year.

One, single well-timed event, successful or not, could significantly alter the course of the next election and the future course of this country.  It did after 9-11, and look how that turned out.

Does anyone really think that ISIS hasn't already thought about this?

Are we, ourselves, even thinking about it?

And what can we do to prevent the almost inevitable public reaction, should it occur?

How do we prevent our enemy -- one who has sworn to destroy us and our way of life -- from determining or our future? 

I don't have the answers or the solutions, but I'm sure interested in hearing yours.

 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

What You May Not Know About Holyoke's 5 Ballot Questions


There are 5 questions on Tuesday's ballot, 4 of which are binding. 
In one way or another, every question is about representation and accountability.  Following is how we are voting on each question, and why.

QUESTION #1:  NO
The backers of this ballot question are asking voters to reduce the number of At-Large Councilors from 8 to 6, touting a savings of $20,000 as one of their primary reasons to shrink the Council.  On the surface that may sound reasonable, but what they don't say is that $20,000 is only a savings of 50 cents per resident.  
The backers' attempt to misdirect voters into focusing on savings instead of focusing on the effect of the proposed reduction, is troubling.  There is a reason our forefathers structured the City Council the way they did.  Fewer At-Large Councilors means less ability for voters in all Wards to be able to hold the Council accountable for their actions.  To cite 2 recent examples of how changing the balance (8 At-Large vs. 7 Ward councilors) affects residents in different parts of the city, imagine what the outcome might have been in Ward 5 and Ward 7, with Walmart and a casino, if voters in those Wards didn't have the ability to hold 8 At-Large Councilors accountable for their actions?
This is a question of representation and accountability.  Not one of cost.  If backers want to reduce the size of the Council by 2, they should reduce the Ward representation by 1 seat, and the At-Large representation by 1 seat, in order to keep the balance as it was meant to be, maintaining accountability citywide. 
Preserve your ability to hold the City Council accountable for their actions.
Vote NO on Question 1.


QUESTION #2:  NO
The backers of this question want to extend the Mayor's term to 4 years, beginning in 2017.  The problem with this proposal is that citizens need to have a mechanism by which they can hold their elected representatives accountable for their actions, especially on a local level where decisions have a far greater, and more immediate, impact on our daily lives.  4 Years is too long a window to go without the checks and balances an election brings.  Responsive and accountable Mayors will be re-elected.  Bad ones won't.  As it should be.

Vote NO on Question 2.

 
QUESTION #3:  NO

The backers of this question want to extend the City Council's term to 4 years, beginning in 2017.  The problem with this proposal, as with question 2 above, is that citizens need to have a mechanism by which they can hold their elected representatives accountable for their actions, especially on a local level where decisions have a far greater, and more immediate, impact on our daily lives.  4 Years is too long a window to go without the checks and balances an election brings.  Responsive and accountable Councilors will be re-elected.  Bad ones won't.  As it should be.
Vote NO on Question 3.

 

 QUESTION #4:  YES
The backers of this question want to merge the City Treasurer position with the Tax Collector position and change the City Treasurer from an elected position, to one which is appointed by the City Council.  Our opinion is that the City Treasurer should be chosen based on his/her qualifications, experience and proven ability to do the job well -- not on his/her popularity or ability to raise campaign money.
To get the most qualified Treasurer, change it from an elected to an appointed position.
Vote YES on Question 4.

 
QUESTION #5:  NO  (non-binding)

The backers of this question want to replace the elected position of Mayor with a City Council-appointed position of City Manager.  In this case, the City Manager would be accountable only to the Councilors, not to the voters.  The major problem with this proposal is that it removes the ability of the voters to directly hold Holyoke's highest ranking official accountable for his/her actions by placing a buffer (the City Council) between the voters and the Mayor/Manager. 
Vote NO on Question 5.
 

PLEASE SHARE
 
 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Why I'm Voting For Alex Morse, Again

October 30, 2015

I can't imagine that there is a single one of us who hasn't looked at the transformation of downtown Northampton and, more recently, downtown Easthampton and said "wouldn't it be great if this could happen in Holyoke?"

Well, I never thought I'd be able to say this, but it's actually beginning to happen.  For the first time in decades, significant investment is starting to funnel into our downtown district.  Infrastructure improvements like the Canal Walk are now leading to private investment in the old mill buildings adjoining our downtown canals.  They're getting snapped up by savvy investors who believe in Alex Morse's plan for Holyoke's future.  Apartments, condominiums, retail, office, restaurants -- are all in the works.  Holyoke's revitalization is upon us and people are noticing:  across the region . . . across the state . . . and across the country -- and almost everyone is rooting for us.  Rooting for Holyoke!

Yet, instead of being excited by these long hoped-for developments, some residents aren't happy.  I ask myself how could anyone be unhappy about the biggest acceleration in private downtown investment Holyoke has seen in decades?  The only answer I can come up with, is that some people just don't like Alex. 
I get that Alex has alienated some people and I'm not invalidating their reasons for feeling that way.  But if I had the opportunity to look each of them in the eye I would say to them:  "You don't have to like Alex, to love what he's doing for our city."  

Because, in the end, that's what this election should be about.  Is Holyoke better or worse for having Alex as our mayor these past 4 years?
When is the last time you saw this much new investment in the heart of downtown Holyoke?  Do any of us truly believe that, without Alex and the team he has put in place, that we would be on the cusp of a major downtown revitalization today?  Isn't this exactly the kind of progress we've waited 40 years to see?

If Holyoke's progress is more important to you than Holyoke's politics, please join me in voting to re-elect Alex Morse as Holyoke's mayor next Tuesday. 
Holyoke is on the verge of a major revitalization.  Please don't stop it dead in its tracks.

John Epstein


The following was published October 2013:

Why I'm Voting For Alex Morse

I remember growing up in Holyoke in an era when you never thought twice about leaving the doors to your home unlocked or your keys in your car's ignition.

I remember going downtown to shop, as a child with my parents, and later as a young adult.  The streets were crowded with shoppers and every store was bustling and busy.  There was Steiger's, Neisner's, McCauslin Wakelin, Childs, Moriarty's, Bail's, Dorothy Dodd's, Casual Corner, D'Addario's, Del Padre, Shirl's Record Whirl, Stein's Kiddies World, Lesser's, Ryback's and dozens more.  Most of their owners were our Holyoke neighbors, or lived in nearby towns. And every one of them advertised their businesses in the Holyoke Transcript-Telegram.

I remember the locally owned pharmacies that populated every neighborhood, where I'd ride my bike every week to buy the latest baseball cards or Batman and Superman comics.  I remember  family dinners at Gleason's Townhouse, Kelly's Lobster House, Edna Williams' Log Cabin, The Yankee Pedlar and, in later years, at The Golden Lemon.

And I remember the thrill of seeing the latest movies on the giant screens at The Strand, The Suffolk and in the splendor of the Victory theater.  These and other wonderful Holyoke businesses are fondly burned into my memory all these years later.

But by the time I graduated from Holyoke High School in 1974, things were already beginning to change.  Within the decade which followed, crime and drugs and fires and poverty all ran rampant through our hometown.  Businesses began their rapid exodus from downtown as the Mall drove the final nail in the coffin of locally owned stores.  I watched as an influx of absentee landlords purchased some of Holyoke's grandest apartment buildings; turned them into Section 8 cash cows; milked them for every penny; ran them into the ground; and then abandoned them, leaving their decaying remains as a blight upon our city. 

It didn't take long for Holyoke to become the butt of everyone's jokes.  But is wasn't a joke to those of us who grew up, raised our families, and built our lives here.  By the late 70's, most of my classmates had fled town.  Some moved to other areas of the country.  Others relocated to nearby towns.  I'm one of the very few of my classmates who never left Holyoke.

Over the subsequent 40 years, friends, classmates, and even complete strangers would ask me why I hadn't left town.  My answer has consistently been that "there are still good things going on in Holyoke", though it saddened me that virtually none of these people seemed to be able to see it.  Yet, I can understand their reaction because, for decades, the news which was reported about Holyoke was mostly about it having the reputation of being an unsavory place to live or to spend time. 

For years -- and as a Holyoke resident you surely know this -- wherever we went, outsiders ranked on our hometown, describing it variously as either the "armpit" or the "dumping ground" of Western Mass.  They would repeatedly ask "why would anyone choose to live in Holyoke?"  As residents, we knew there were problems, but we also knew it was seldom as bad as its reputation.

And this is why I'm voting for Alex Morse.  Not because of what's happened during the past 40 years, but because of the dramatic change in how outsiders have come to view Holyoke since Alex was elected two years ago. 

Nowadays, wherever Ruth and I go and whenever we mention that we're from Holyoke, people comment to us about "your new mayor" and how "something really exciting is happening in Holyoke" or that "Holyoke is a really exciting place to live right now".  Whether we're in Turners Falls, Greenfield, Northampton or Springfield, the reaction we've gotten is markedly different from what it had been just a few years ago.  Several people we've met have told us that their next move was going to be to Holyoke.  One former resident who fled Holyoke over 2 dozen years ago said that she and her husband had recently made the decision to move back home to Holyoke.  What struck me most about her comment wasn't just that they were coming back, it was her use of the word "home".  Here it was, dozens of years later, and they still looked upon Holyoke as their home. 

For 40 years I've suffered the slings and arrows of outsiders and former residents asking me why I would stay in a "dump" like Holyoke.  But now I'm hearing complete strangers say that it's an exciting place to be.  I never thought I'd hear people talking that way about Holyoke again in my lifetime.  And it's not just coming from here.  People all over the Pioneer Valley, all over the State -- and even across the country -- have been viewing Holyoke in a significantly more positive light since Alex was elected.  How many decades or generations do we have to look back to find a comparable change in public reaction?  Seemingly overnight, Alex's election has changed the perception outsiders have of Holyoke -- in an extraordinarily positive way. 

Still, some argue that the only remaining chance for Holyoke is to sell her out to the highest bidder -- be it a Wal-Mart, a casino, or even a nuclear waste dump.  They argue that turning more residential neighborhoods into business neighborhoods is the magical answer.  I don't believe that.  Neither does Alex. 

That's why I'm voting for Alex Morse. 

I may not have agreed with every single thing Alex has done, but I can't ignore the fact that Alex is transforming Holyoke into a place that outsiders want to come to play; to live; to work; to invest; and to establish their business.  Those are the fundamental building blocks that are absolutely mandatory for an older industrial city, like Holyoke, to renew itself.  Alex understands that.  And over the past 2 years it has become clear to me that Alex's vision for Holyoke is what's driving that renewed interest. 

Of all the things Holyoke could possibly do to improve its standing, probably the single most significant thing that can happen is that people want to come here.   No Mayor in my entire adult lifetime has done more to improve the perception that others have of Holyoke, than Alex Morse.

For the first time in 40 years, outsiders are viewing Holyoke in an extremely positive light.  I, for one, am not willing to wait another 40 years for an opportunity like this to come again.

That's why I'm voting for Alex Morse.

John P. Epstein
Holyoke