Our View: Spicer for Mayor
On Tuesday, Framingham voters will choose who will lead the transition from town to city. With the ebullience of crafting a new government, however, comes the sober reality of the big issues that remain. And while the new City Council and district representative School Committee must work together on these issues, it is the city’s first mayor on whose shoulders the greatest responsibility rests. It is the mayor’s vision that will set the course of Framingham’s future.
Along with the sheer rigor of building an entirely new government, the new mayor will have to use creativity and innovative thinking in grappling with the major issues that face all the sectors of Framingham, which hampers its many positives.
South Framingham, where the poverty rate is three times higher than that in the northern zip code, is the most distressed area in MetroWest. That area includes a downtown district in dire need of revitalization. Framingham is home to four under-performing schools, there are areas of blight and areas polluted by toxic chemicals mainly the legacy of Framingham’s industrial past. City officials must work aggressively to lure and support large and small businesses and forge regional relationships.
The first order of business for the city’s new leader will be to heal the wounds left by the narrow vote last spring that pushed Framingham in a new direction.
The two mayoral candidates – John Stefanini and Yvonne Spicer – each bring leadership, intellect, a strong work ethic and vision to the table. In this pair there is an embarrassment of riches.
Stefanini, a lawyer, served five terms as a state representative and two terms as a selectman. He is well-known and has accomplished much. Stefanini was a major force behind the charter movement that resulted in Framingham’s vote to become a city. He is rightly proud of his leadership role in bringing the Boys and Girls Club to Framingham and guiding the diverse parties involved toward the expansion of open space at Callahan State Park. He has a deep knowledge of Framingham and is influential at the local and state levels.
Spicer worked for 16 years as a teacher and later a department chair in Framingham Public Schools before taking a job as director of career and technical education for Newton Public Schools. She sold real estate on the side for 10 years and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from UMass Boston in 2004. Spicer is currently vice president for advocacy and educational partnerships at the Museum of Science in Boston, a job that requires national and international travel. And in March 2016, she was elected as a representative to Framingham Town Meeting and serves on the Ways and Means Committee.
Spicer was bitten by the technology bug as a young teacher and later helped foster STEM education across the state as a member of the Massachusetts Governor’s STEM Advisory Council under the former and current governors; and as a committee member of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable. She serves as an advisory board member of the Massachusetts State Treasurers Economic Empowerment Trust Fund and is a former adviser to the National Governor’s Association. In these roles she says she developed partnerships with business leaders, policy makers, nonprofit organizations and educational institutions.
The switch to a city government opens a new chapter for the 317-year old town. It is one of those rare opportunities for a fresh start and a fresh vision. We believe Spicer has the professional experience, drive and intellectual curiosity to lead the city as it sets out on a new and exciting path.
Spicer describes herself as a collaborator who surrounds herself with intelligent, ambitious people whose views often diverge from her own. She says she likes to be around people who think differently than she does and are not afraid to make mistakes because that is where valuable learning occurs. In picking her team, she would do well to complement her strengths and weaknesses, such as bringing in someone with financial and budgetary acumen. And it would be wise of Spicer, who voted against becoming a city, to include among her advisers and staff those who supported becoming a city.
Spicer’s career path reveals a person who earns success and seeks out new challenges. As a leader, she has a dynamic personality and projects a level of energy, creativity and thoughtfulness that will serve the community well.