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Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt   

City, school, community merit my support

Having lived and worked in Holyoke for 35 years, I’ve gained a true appreciation for the sense of community that is so valuable and so evident in this place I’m proud to call home.

I see it when one of our own is struggling with cancer or other health issues. The whole community rallies around for fundraisers, moving and cleaning crews, transportation to doctors, and just plain moral support and encouragement.

It’s clear when tragedy strikes that this community backs the victims.

Support comes out in full force for events to better our hospital, our theater and other entities that define the community we’re proud to be part of.

Two such entities — the City of Holyoke and Holyoke School District — are asking for our support by way of ballot issues this year.

The city is asking for a yes vote to remove term limits for councilmembers and the mayor.

The school is asking for approval for a 2.5 mill levy to replace the 3.0 mill levy that was approved by voters for five years in 2010.

I don’t always endorse all community ballot issues. Let me make that clear. However, I’ve listened to the city and school arguments on these two, and I support the two local ballot issues this year.

First of all, I commend both for looking ahead. The term limit issue doesn’t affect the city elected officials until the April 2016 election. And the school mill levy question will affect collection year 2016.

In numerous elections for city council, hospital board, school board or county office, we see only one candidate on the ballot. Or in the case of city, hospital and school elections, the candidate election is simply canceled because there are only enough interested people to fill the vacant positions.

The potential board member pool is not always huge in a small, rural area. I agree with the city’s effort to say that it’s a shame to limit people to two consecutive four-year terms when they’re still interested in serving and have just wrapped their arms around the in-depth understanding of issues.

If such elected officials are not doing a good job, they can still be replaced. An opponent with more votes can oust them in a minute.

When it comes to the school district’s request for a 2.5 mill levy for five years (collection years 2016-2020), I like the fact that my taxes will actually show a decrease of 0.5 mill. Additionally, it’s not a forever thing but has a five-year life.

But more importantly, I feel it is needed. With cuts in state funding, it’s up to us to provide the dollars to maintain our school district and staff to best prepare our youth for the future. The dollars are targeted for facilities, technology, instructional materials, and attraction and retention of qualified staff — all essential for a good education system.

The 3.0 mill levy portion of the 2010 ballot issue will go away after collection year 2015, and I’m in favor of reducing that mill levy to 2.5 mill for another five years to support the challenging quest for excellence in education.

Yes on 2A. Eliminate term limits for city elected officials.

Yes on 3D. Replace 3.0 mill levy with a new 2.5 mill levy for a net reduction of 0.5 mill to my tax bill.

Yes for the community of Holyoke.


Holyoke Enterprise October 23, 2014