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Briefings: Riffenburg Bows out of Holyoke’s Ward 6 Race…

UPDATED 6/10/15 11:06AM: To include reaction from Kevin Jourdain.

Mark Riffenburg (WMassP&I)

Mark Riffenburg (WMassP&I)

There is still time on the clock, but as it stands the race to succeed Holyoke Ward 6 Councilor Todd McGee now is down to one candidate. This evening Mark Riffenburg, a political organizer and former deputy Treasurer, withdrew from the race leaving current at-large Councilor Kevin Jourdain as the only candidate in the ward race.

Citing “changing circumstances” in his life, Riffenburg said he would not pursue the office anymore. He thanked his supporters and offered his support to those who might be running for the City Council’s Ward 6 seat.

“I love my ward, and I love my city, but after giving it serious thought I’ve decided not to pursue the Ward 6 seat on the City Council any further,” Riffenburg said in a release to the media. Reached by phone, he declined to comment further at this time.

“I encourage anyone who is passionate about their community to consider a run in Ward 6,” Riffenburg continued. “Over the past few months I’ve heard the same thing over, and over again: we need change,” which impliedly a longtime councilor like Jourdain could not provide.

This had been Riffenburg’s second bid for office, having run at-large unsuccessfully in 2013. As recently as two weeks ago he was still gung-ho about running.

The race started when McGee announced he would vacate the seat at the end of this year as his family was moving to Ward 7 (where he is now running for Council under the city’s lax residency requirements for ward seats). Riffenburg declared first and Jourdain joined shortly thereafter, giving up almost certain reelection at-large for the relative uncertainty of a head-to-head race.

Jourdain faced criticism after the Essex House had partially collapsed—he was one of three votes against money last summer—but enjoyed better press as he aligned with Mayor Alex Morse on charter reforms. There is no reason to suspect this affected Riffenburg’s decision.

Jourdain, in an email, did not dwell on Riffenburg’s withdrawal, focusing instead on voter outreach and the support he has received. “As Council President, no one is better positioned to help my constituents and help our city.  I have never been concerned about who is or is not my opponent in this election,” he wrote.

Nomination papers are due July 28. Another challenger could emerge, but if none does, only Jourdain—whose signatures have already been certified for the election—will have his name on the ballot.