During any election, the issue of public safety is on voters’ minds.
Unfortunately, in the case of Jay Ferreira’s mayoral candidacy, voters have heard only scare tactics and disingenuous arguments — arguments belied by the facts, and at odds with Ferreira’s own record as a city councilor.
Jay Ferreira’s whole public safety agenda boils down to his criticism about the “browning out” of Fire Engine #2.
But as a city councilor, when Jay Ferreira actually had a say in how to manage the fire department’s budget, he advocated for an even more extreme path, calling for the regionalization of the fire department. In December of 2013, Ferreira filed orders that would have merged Holyoke’s fire, building, health, and veterans departments with those of the towns of Southampton and South Hadley. At the time, he wrote, “I believe there is the potential for large savings and no reduction in city services if done properly.”
On December 19, 2013, Ferreira shared a MassLive article on his Facebook page — titled “East Longmeadow considers sharing human resources department with Ludlow” — and offered the following statement:
“This is the direction we need to be moving in. There is so much money to be saved. We could basically take over the entire government of Southampton and some of South Hadley’s. I filed an order to do some of this with four city departments. Creativity and an open mind will equal savings.”
Voters need to understand: had Ferreira gotten his way in 2013, some Holyoke engines would have been put out of service. And in much the same way the fire union has criticized Mayor Morse’s redistribution plan, the union was highly critical of Ferreira’s plan in 2013.
“I like Jay, and believe he cares about the city,” Mayor Morse says. “But this shows that he’s willing to take positions for political advantage.”
Jay Ferreira was right when he called for “creativity” and “an open mind” in addressing the city’s financial challenges. But as a candidate for mayor, he has instead chosen to echo the talking points of political allies.
Moreover, despite making fire safety a centerpiece of his campaign, Jay Ferreira has still not reached out to Fire Chief Pond to discuss the department and its needs. At no time in the seven months since Ferreira pulled nomination papers to run for mayor has he prioritized meeting with the chief.
“It is truly astounding that a candidate for mayor wouldn’t even reach out to the chief to have a conversation,” Mayor Morse says. “If Jay wants to hear about creative ways to save money and improve services, Chief Pond is exactly the person he should have talked to.”
Throughout his time in office, Mayor Morse has managed to cut overall spending while guaranteeing fire protection to the people of Holyoke. Since Mayor Morse took office, the city has purchased three new fire trucks, hired 37 new firefighters, and received nearly $3.3 million in federal grants to hire firefighters and buy radios and other gear. According to the Insurance Service Organization, Holyoke’s fire protection has improved on Mayor Morse’s watch.