For the past forty-two years I have lived, worked, played, prayed and raised my family in Framingham with my husband Martin, a seventy year resident who grew up on Irving Street on the prison property where his Irish immigrant father worked. I grew up in downtown Waltham. My parents knew their ward councilor. They also knew their at-large councilors. Whenever there was a neighborhood issue, problem or concern, my parents would call their councilor(s) to seek resolution. It was a simple, uncomplicated process that always led to resolution, usually quickly. Most of my family still lives in Waltham and the process is still working for them.
I have been involved in Framingham government for nearly thirty years, as your Town Clerk for the past seventeen years, your Interim Town Manager in 2006 and 2011-2012 and your selectman in the nineties. Since April 2016, I have had the rare opportunity to serve with a Charter Commission whose members possess the depth and breadth of knowledge and experience in Framingham government that is unparalleled in our time. Among us there are a former state representative, current and former selectmen, a former Town Manager and a former Interim Town Manager, the current Moderator, a former School Committee member, a former and the current Town Clerk, a member of the Framingham Housing Authority, town meeting members, a past and a current Edgell Grove Cemetery trustee, former library trustees, a former Zoning Board of Appeals member, a former Economic Development and Industrial Corporation Chair, a former elected Parks and Recreation commissioner, and past Finance Committee members. I have had the honor of administering the oath of office to elected and appointed government officials for the past seventeen years. No other board, committee or commission in Framingham has members with backgrounds as extensive in Framingham government as the Charter Commissioners.
During the past year, the Charter Commission convened over fifty-seven meetings, several subcommittee meetings and seven public hearings to gather input from residents, community leaders and experts in municipal government to help determine the most inclusive and effective form of government for our community. On March 27th we will hold our eighth education forum to answer questions about the charter from our residents. The Commission has drafted for voters’ consideration, through a transparent, open, participatory and iterative process, a Home Rule Charter to reform, reconstitute and reinvigorate our local government. Each commissioner has contributed his or her expertise to the effort to make our community an even better place to live, learn, work and play. The Charter makes our local government structure more accountable, responsive, efficient and transparent. We all deserve this.
In 1994, I helped John Stefanini organize Bill Clinton’s visit to Framingham. President Clinton said Framingham is “a place like any other in America”. He was correct. Martin and I are very grateful that we raised our four children in Framingham, a community so rich in diversity that our children are prepared to live anywhere. However that diversity does not extend to our government – appointed or elected. The proposed charter will change that. Nine School Committee members and nine Councilors will be elected from nine districts. The entire community will be represented on both boards. The mayor will be a Framingham resident who shares our benefits and our challenges and will be available 24/7. Let’s be a city that truly celebrates our diversity in our government as well as our neighborhoods.
I am very disappointed and saddened by the misinformation that is being circulated and the fear tactics that are being used to convince our voters to oppose what I consider to be the best written charter in the commonwealth…and I have read several. Framingham is a wonderful community. Just because Framingham updates its local government structure to a more accountable, responsive and efficient one that works for all its residents, does not mean that our sense of community, values and priorities, our many volunteers, and hundreds of municipal workers will change. They will not. What will change is our ability to implement our priorities.
As your former selectman and Interim Town Manager, your current Town Clerk and your neighbor I respectfully ask you to please join me in voting YES for the charter on April 4th.
Town Clerk, Chair of the Charter Commission, former Town Manager and Selectman