The Other Gay Contenders



- Democrat
- Running for mayor of Holyoke, Mass.

Alex Morse talks a mile a minute. When we caught up to him this week, the 22-year-old was busy knocking on doors so Holyoke, Mass., residents can attach a face to the name they've been seeing in newspapers. Morse grew up in this city of about 40,000 knowing he would eventually aspire to political office. His growing hunger to bring a youthful vitality to the city sparked the idea to run for mayor now, as opposed to waiting to reach the age of the other challengers in the race: Daniel C. Boyle, who was already a successful businessman by the time Morse was born, and Daniel C. Burns who ran for mayor when Morse was honing his motor skills in 1993.

Morse won't trash the incumbent mayor, Elaine A. Pluta, but he feels confident that he can take the city to another level by enticing young people to move to and stay in Holyoke and by reforming its public education system. So far his energetic grassroots campaign has garnered the support of local politicians and the National Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. The former Point scholar says he is thinking outside of the box, compared to his fellow challengers, by also engaging the Puerto Rican population in Holyoke, which has reportedly one of the highest concentrations of Puerto Ricans outside of the Caribbean island. And despite his age, he finds that older voters are taken with him.

"They say young people are the future, but the older folks here in Holyoke have been encouraging me a lot," he said.

Morse's high energy just may carry him through the September 20 primary election, the November 8 general election, and possibly his goal of staying on as mayor for the next decade. But for him to get there, he and his grassroots campaigners still have many doors to knock on. —Michelle Garcia

Tags: Election