Spicer: Ready to lead Framingham’s new city government
FRAMINGHAM — At age 6, Yvonne Spicer met a woman whose example of leadership still resonates with her.
While in first grade, Spicer and her classmates were treated to a visit by former New York lawmaker Shirley Chisholm, the first African American Congresswoman.
A trailblazer who also mounted a run for president, Chisholm told Spicer’s first grade class that her job as a politician was to make things better for the community, Spicer said.
“I saw leadership,” she said, “and even at 6 years old, her words to me resonate today. ’I do things to make life better for all of you children.”
Spicer, who is running to be Framingham’s first mayor, said that same spirit lies behind her bid to lead the town’s new city government next year.
Spicer, a former teacher and current executive at the Museum of Science in Boston, is one of seven mayoral candidates competing in the Sept. 26 preliminary election. She discussed her background and priorities for the community during an interview Tuesday with staff from the Daily News.
A Brooklyn native, Spicer moved to Framingham to teach in 1985. She began her career at Farley and Walsh middle schools, then went on to Framingham High, working for 16 years as both a classroom instructor and administrator focused on technology education.
She earned a doctorate in educational leadership, and is now vice president of advocacy and educational partnerships at the Museum of Science. Working in a startup division at the museum, Spicer travels the country building capacity for STEM programs in local schools — an effort that she said has now reached 12 million students in the United States and abroad.
Spicer said she gravitated toward technology at a young age. She remembers taking apart a blender at age 7, to the delight of her father.
“I always had a curiosity of how the world worked,” she said, “and that was something that was supported by my parents.”
Spicer has lived in Framingham for 32 years, both on the Northside and Southside. She raised a niece in the community, and was elected to serve on Town Meeting, taking a position on the Ways and Means Committee.
While she’s a newcomer to politics, Spicer said she developed valuable skills during her career in education, including supervising and hiring staff, managing budgets and building resources and facilities.
Spicer’s campaign last week released a 35-page platform document outlining some of her ideas for the new city government, with a focus on areas such as strategic planning, working with the School Committee, increasing diversity in local government and communicating with citizens.
At the top of her list of priorities is economic development. To aid that goal, Spicer proposes establishing a new Framingham Planning and Development Agency to streamline existing services from various town departments. The agency would present a more cohesive approach to issues such as redeveloping blighted shopping plazas, Spicer said.
Spicer also pledged to look after the social and emotional health of residents — particularly seniors and veterans, ensuring they feel valued and connected to the community. She suggested exploring programs that would offer publicity or tax breaks to contractors who volunteer to do work for seniors in need of minor home renovations.
In the area of communication and citizen services, Spicer’s platform proposes enlisting high school students and senior volunteers to act as docents at the Memorial Building, helping steer visitors to the right department, and establishing a 311 service for people to report problems by phone or online.
“We’re not getting the communication we’d like to from town government,” she said. “You know, where do you go if you have a problem? If you don’t know how to navigate the website, or if you call an office, how do you know your message was received? So being able to have a much more responsive communication system is going to be critical for us as a community.”
If she becomes mayor, Spicer said she will “lead with integrity,” adding that she has nothing but the best interests of the community at heart.
“I didn’t have a lot of strings attached,” she said. “I don’t owe anyone anything. I don’t have any special interest groups that I have to be accountable to. I’m coming to do this job for Framingham, for the people of Framingham.”
Candidate at a glance
Political Party: Democrat
Residence: North Lane
Education: Bachelor’s degree in industrial arts and technology; master’s degree in technology education; doctorate in educational leadership
Employment: Vice president for advocacy and educational partnerships at the Museum of Science in Boston
Political experience: Framingham Town Meeting Member and vice chairwoman for Precinct 6; member of the Ways and Means Committee
Other community service: Past Member of the Human Relations Commission; Member of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable; appointed to the Massachusetts Governor’s STEM Advisory Council by Govs. Patrick and Baker; served as an advisor to the National Governor’s Association
Facebook page: @yvonnespicerformayor
Twitter handle: @spicerformayor