On June 19, Garcia and his team kicked off his campaign to take on the important role of Mayor for the City of Holyoke. At the kickoff, there were a series of opening speeches that reaffirmed Joshua’s roots in the city, his commitment to Holyoke, and his personal and professional character. Nicholas Duclos was the MC for the evening who also shared with the crowd why Joshua A. Garcia will be the next Mayor. We heard from Joshua’s mother, Lianexis Collazo, who shared her experiences first moving to Holyoke from Puerto Rico in 1977 and establishing roots in Holyoke when she became a young mom. We heard from Joshua’s wife, Stefany E. Garcia. who shared his strongest qualities as a husband and as a father. We heard from his brother-in-law Julio Galindo who shared his appreciation of Joshua in how committed he is to his sister Stefany, his family, and his community. We heard from Pastor Felix Vazquez, a middle school friend from Lynch School and Pasture at Relevant City Church in the Flats neighborhood of Holyoke. Pasture Vazquez shared how Joshua’s candidacy is inspiring and provides hope to many young Hispanic men and women who grow up in our urban core. We also heard from Darlene Elias, a long time community activist who shared her experiences first meeting Joshua and how they became friends. Darlene shared the many times they collaborated to fight against injustice in the City and how she grew to respect Joshua. Lastly, we heard from Joshua’s former boss who recently retired from the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC), Jim Mazik, Chief Operating Officer. Jim talked on Joshua’s responsibilities at the PVPC and what he accomplished throughout the five years he was working there.
In a crowded room of more than 50 people at Pics Pub Banquet Hall, Joshua shared the following speech:
“First, I want to thank my incredible wife and family for their support and patience with me throughout this campaign. I want to thank my mother for her unconditional love and for her faith in me that has kept me motivated while growing up. I also want to thank the speakers that spoke tonight who strongly believe that together we can make a real difference.
I’m indebted to all of you for being here tonight. I’m grateful for your support. And I appreciate your beliefs.
Because your beliefs brought you here tonight, you believe a 35-year-old guy who grew up poor in South Holyoke can be elected mayor. You believe that a candidate’s experience and compassion are better credentials than money or friends in high places. And you believe that — for the first time in Holyoke’s history — a city that is more than 50 percent Hispanic will have a Puerto Rican mayor. Tonight, and all way to election day, we are making history. And what better day to kickoff new history then today, Juneteenth!
“Belief” is another word for “faith.” I was raised by a single mother, and a step father I was lucky to have, whose faith never wavered. We lived in a neighborhood where poverty was warehoused and barriers to ambition were just as big…and our representation in City Hall was small. But my mother had faith that with just a little hard work, adversity can be overcome through inner strength and perseverance. I stand before you tonight as proof that faith can move mountains, that nothing is impossible and that a guy from South Holyoke, a product of this City — a city of opportunity and hope — can be your next mayor.
I am grateful for my heritage and my Holyoke story, and I have an abiding respect for your heritage and your stories as well. My campaign affirms our commitment to each other – wealthy or poor, from west Holyoke to south Holyoke, far left, middle, or far right; Black, Hispanic, Asian or White. I am committed to our relationship as citizens of Holyoke so that — together — we can connect, build, and grow our city.
I understand we have challenges ahead. With my municipal management experience and diverse experiences having been raised in this city, coupled with my relationships with all of you, I can tell you that we can overcome these challenges – by slightly shifting our priorities, we can definitely improve services.
Let’s start with education. Particularly, for a person that looks like me, education is the ultimate equalizer. I have been very lucky and very blessed with a wonderful education that started right here in the City of Holyoke. My primary school journey started at H.B. Lawrence elementary school, then Lynch Middle School and finished at Holyoke High School. I went on to receive my Bachelor’s Degree as well as a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Westfield State University. I want these same opportunities for each and every student going through the Holyoke Public Schools. Currently and historically however, that just has not been the case for some students and we MUST do better. Our schools are in receivership. Understand that being in receivership is a symptom of a larger problem –a problem that has left many children behind- and we need to work together to resolve so we can prove to the Commonwealth our local government is capable of controlling our own education system and our own future.
We MUST also invest in the cleanliness and safety of every neighborhood in the City of Holyoke. Rebuilding and maintaining our infrastructure and keeping up with the maintenance of our public spaces is critical to Holyoke’s economy and the overall quality of life of our residents.
We MUST do better at including everyone’s voices in our decision making process. When it comes to making decisions that impact people’s lives of a given neighborhood, civic engagement with special attention to equity and inclusion is very important. We need to do better at empowering our neighborhoods to take control of decisions that are theirs.
Again, by slightly shifting our priorities, we can do better. My vision for the City of Holyoke is to cultivate an environment within our local government and our neighborhoods that is sustainable so that we can support the very efforts that help build our community.
When we talk about economic development, good public education, advanced public safety efforts, and quality municipal services – these are municipal functions that are dependent on how well we manage our resources as a local government to provide the kind of services our community expects. Unfortunately however, we have not been very fiscally responsible and our internal controls lack the proper oversight and accountability. The result of our disjointed management system is reflected in the disruption of our city services, our crumbling infrastructure, the lack of control over our schools, the trash on our streets, the inconsistency of enforcements, the lack of transparency of how funds are spent, the disinvestment of our capital needs, and so on. WE MUST DO BETTER and I am the only candidate that has the skill, ability, and vested interest to make sure we can do better, and put Holyoke on a stronger path forward.
I cannot do this alone and need the support of each and every one of you. I thank you greatly for being her tonight and supporting our campaign. Be sure to vote Joshua A. Garcia coming in September and once again in November!”