Civil rights group speaks out against Holyoke city ordinance

Hampden County

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – A Boston-based civil rights group is expressing its opposition to a Holyoke ordinance prohibiting city employees from serving on the City Council.

At-large Councilor-elect Israel Rivera and Ward 1 Councilor-elect Jenny Rivera both won seats for Holyoke City Council in the November election. However, some question whether they can serve while employed with the Holyoke public school system due to the ordinance.

Jenny Rivera announced she would resign as a paraprofessional on January 2nd. Israel Rivera, no relation, still plans to take office. Efforts to repeal the ordinance failed twice in the past month. City Councilor-elect Kevin Jourdain wants to keep the ordinance in place.

“The choice is his as to which he wants to do,” Councilor-elect Jourdain said. “If he choices to stay a city employee that is his right, if he chooses to be a city councilor, but he can not simply do both.”

Lawyers for Civil Rights Boston opposes the ordinance, and issued an opinion this week saying the ordinance is contradicted by the city charter and state law. They say its enforcement could stand in the way of adding much-needed diversity to the Council. New councilors will be sworn-in on January 3rd.

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