Q&A: Mayoral Candidate Yvonne Spicer

Why are you running for mayor?

After 317 years we are changing our form of government and setting a new course for everything that will take place in the future. It has to be done right and I’m the candidate to do that. I’ll give Framingham the fresh start it needs and I’ll create a transparent inclusive government. I’ll come to the job as the only candidate with proven executive leadership skills. I am the candidate who will set us on the right track moving forward. Seats at the table will be open to all voices, it will be about bringing people with varying viewpoints together to do what’s best for Framingham.

Framingham’s first Mayor has to be able to unify our community. I will bring together our residents, businesses and the outstanding team of municipal professionals to develop and implement a strategic plan which upholds our core values of integrity and transparency to facilitate balanced growth. My entire professional life has been about building things. And it’s been about bringing people together to get things done. I plan to do that and more for Framingham – with integrity and transparency.

What would you like to tell voters about your qualifications?

I have built a professional career that demonstrates my ability to work with educators, business leaders, legislators, and non-profit organizations. Each position I have held has prepared me to be the Mayor of Framingham. I have acquired skill sets such as collaborative leadership, problem-solving, fiscal management and building innovative, successful programs. I have experience in leading teams in a way to cultivate and bring out the best in people and organizations while achieving our strategic goals. I have a proven track record of success in every organization where I’ve worked.

In the words of distinguished Framingham educator and former Superintendent of Newton and Concord, Irwin Blumer, “Yvonne Spicer is the only candidate with the executive leadership experience needed to be Framingham’s Mayor.” Blumer also described my leadership style: “She established trust, by being honest and transparent, by listening to people, by speaking from her head and her heart. They [employees] knew that when they asked her a question they might not always get the answer they wanted, but they would get the answer she believed in. She involved them in creating a vision for the department, built a budget to carry out that vision, and then implemented and executed the vision . . . Yvonne has no special interests but the people of Framingham. She will be a strong, intelligent, independent voice for all the people of Framingham.”

I earn people’s trust and respect. I make thoughtful, well-informed decisions. With my deep and broad expertise in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) I think and process like an Engineer – looking at all the data, weighing all the pros and cons and making the overall best decisions based on facts and what is best for our community.

(See more about Spicer’s professional history on her LinkedIn profile.)

What if any are your plans to keep in touch with residents – to seek their input and communicate your votes and other activities?

As your Mayor, I will hold quarterly town-hall style meetings in neighborhoods to speak directly with the people of Framingham. These forums will be unscripted events where we check in with each other. I’ll update you on what is happening with our new city government and you share your concerns and interests. I will be accessible to you, and I will be listening – in order to make our community stronger, our schools and institutions more inclusive, and our city an even better place to live. I will also put internal and external communications in place so people know where to go, who to talk to and how to get things done. We will utilize a variety of resources to communicate – including mail, print and electronic media.

Our community has a wealth of knowledge and experience in government – from our former Town Meeting Members and our dedicated municipal employees, to the pool of talent of new and long-time residents who are showing interest in participating in local government. Working with the council, together we must take advantage of this wealth of experience, enthusiasm, and concern for Framingham. We need to be inclusive, respectful, honest and transparent in our communication with each other. And most importantly, we need to listen, and do what’s best for Framingham.

That is the style of leadership Framingham deserves and this is the type of Mayor I will be. To every resident interested in contributing fairly and openly I will provide an opportunity to participate and voice their opinions. The office of the first Mayor of Framingham will be one of honesty, integrity, and inclusiveness.

District 2 has two long-vacant or near-vacant commercial areas: Nobscot Plaza and the old Saxonville Lumber. What do you think should be done about these properties?

Developing our blighted plazas is a priority. There are discussions with the Nobscot Plaza owner on a proposed project. There has been neighborhood participation in that process. That’s one key component of all development – public input. The other is the identification of use opportunities. Our economic development team needs the Mayor’s support to go beyond the common exploration of ideas within our state borders. The Mayor can guide the economic development team to look in new directions for more creative ideas and to bring those ideas to the property owners for discussion and consideration. I will make that happen.

The site of the former State Lumber in Saxonville has been landscaped and maintained since the recent roadway improvement construction project in the area. But it’s been vacant for years. Regardless of what is proposed for these locations in the coming years, what is more important is how we make our decisions. We need to be thoughtful about how a new development or project fits within our larger vision for Framingham and we need to proactively identify what we’d like to see there and then engage the property owners in a shared vision.

It is especially important that we hear from the neighborhood, how the residents can use the future spaces and what would be contributions and costs to the neighborhood and the entire community – how we get around, where we shop and socialize, where our children go to school. This is not about picking out this developer over that one, favoring this interest over that one. We need to collectively arrive at these decisions in a fair, open and transparent way that will favor both our neighborhoods and our larger community. My administration will be looking for balanced growth.

Town officials have rightly complained about vacant properties in town. However, the town itself has left the old McAuliffe branch library building sitting vacant for almost a year and a half. What should be done with this building?

The good news is that this town-owned building is not sitting vacant. It is the home of the town Facilities department which operates out of there on a daily basis. The facilities department takes care of maintenance and repair on all town-owned buildings and oversees renovations of existing buildings and new construction projects.

What are your opinions regarding Friends of Saxonville’s proposals to redesign McGrath Square? Renovate the Athenaeum?

Vibrant, active, engaged neighborhoods are so important to the overall community. I admire the outstanding work of the Friends of Saxonville (FOS). Over the years FOS has made a tremendous positive impact on Saxonville, which includes creating an inviting sense of community as well as organizing, advocating, and fundraising. As the first Mayor of Framingham I will encourage and work with neighborhood organizations like the Friends of Saxonville and will work with the city council to make resources available to support their efforts.

The Athenaeum is a historic building and I share the hope of FOS that it can become a vibrant neighborhood center. Partnerships between neighborhood groups like FOS and the city can produce outstanding results, especially with community volunteers fundraising and city employees providing expertise. I share the FOS vision to see the see the Athenaeum come back to life. We’ll be building a new fire station in Saxonville, closing down the Watson Street station adjacent to the Athenaeum. There are many options to consider. I’m looking forward to working with the FOS on next steps.

According to the Department of Public Works, it’s been 60 years since any work was done on McGrath Square. Since that time the Central Street Bridge was reconstructed and the A Street/School Street intersection was redesigned and rebuilt. The reconstruction of McGrath Square is the final piece of the plan to fix the whole area. This will include redoing the traffic signals, improving the pedestrian signals, and making a bicycle path through that intersection (similar to the new bicycle paths on Waverly and Elm Streets).

Do you have any thoughts to share about how to balance desire for more development with strains on transit infrastructure? The competing needs of vehicular traffic, bicyclists, and pedestrians?

Everything we do with transit infrastructure now includes a complete streets component. In 2015 the Framingham Board of Selectmen voted to approve and adopt a Complete Streets policy. A significant amount of work has been done already to initiate the transformation of Framingham into a bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly community. This summer the town completed a bike and pedestrian path along Farm Pond Park. Next is Elm Street and then Water Street. This is a great start.

We also have to be mindful of proper traffic management on our very narrow country roads. While some traffic calming measures have been put in place we can do better. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We can identify and adopt proven best practices. A designated team will focus on that in the new administration.

Town Meeting approved funds for an overall traffic impact study. That study is on course to be brought before the city council and Mayor in the Spring. That data will help us make informed development decisions with consideration for traffic impact. I believe in balanced growth in our community which is achieved by considering those overall impacts when deciding on individual projects. And while we all want to see our blighted plazas fixed sooner rather than later, it is important that we evaluate the impact of every one of them and provide solutions to achieve the quality of life we deserve. The more we listen to each other and use data to make informed decisions, the better Framingham will be for it.

How can Framingham best balance the need to serve less fortunate members of our community with the need for a viable tax base?

As a Mayor, I will approach the question of balancing the budget and providing for the less fortunate among us with care and integrity. Sound fiscal practices are essential for all parts of municipal government. They are important for funding our programs for those who are struggling too. But we also need to think creatively about how we use our resources in a way that benefits everybody and builds our community. Maybe it is a program that provides a benefit to local construction/maintenance/landscaping businesses to help out with repairs/updates of senior and veteran properties. Maybe it is assisting and partnering with local charities to amplify the impact of their work feeding, servicing, and supporting Framingham residents. We need to think creatively.

We need to make Framingham attractive to businesses to become partners in our community and build capacity for our workforce. The goal is cultivating relationships in the business community that signal our willingness to work collaboratively to achieve success. It will require deliberate effort that is fair and balanced, and completely transparent to all residents.

If elected, how do you plan to help Framingham transition from a town to a city?

As Mayor, I will work closely with the new City Council and our Department Heads. The team will be guided to collaborate productively and communicate thoroughly with a shared vision of getting things right and doing them well to facilitate a successful transition and the provision of ongoing, top quality service to constituents. We will be guided by that every single day.

I will put a transition plan in place which will serve as the framework for collaboration and communications and we will create and work towards common goals. Ongoing training and professional development will be designed and implemented so that everyone knows and understands the new structure and bylaws.

Stakeholders have to be kept informed of procedures and processes to make sure quality service to our constituents continues. Changes will be spelled out, documented and thoroughly communicated.

Change is challenging and there will be a lot of it. But I’ve done this before. I have started new operations and transitioned existing operations throughout my career so I know what it entails and I’ve had great success doing it in the past. I will tap into that experience. Additionally, the Board of Selectmen voted to keep the Town Manager on board through the remainder of his contract. He will be a tremendous resource during this transition and his participation will help ensure that the critical institutional knowledge of our day-to-day operations is utilized to keep things running smoothly as we transition to a new city government.

Under the city charter, Framingham will have two long-range plans that will guide decision-making in our community. The Long-Range Strategic Plan focuses on financial, service, and infrastructure needs of the city, and the Master Plan, focuses on the arts, culture, recreation, open space, housing and development. These plans will provide a framework for most major decisions in our community. As your Mayor, I will provide opportunities for meaningful community participation in identifying strategic priorities and initiatives for both of these plans. Throughout the commonwealth and beyond, all eyes will be on us. Together, we will build a city administration that is transparent, efficient and a pleasure to work with. I envision Framingham as a role model city, a city we will all be proud to call “home.”

What’s the best way for voters to find out more about your candidacy? (Web site, Facebook page, etc.)

Web site: http://www.yvonnespicerformayor.com/

Facebook Page: Yvonne Spicer for Framingham Mayor

Email: yspicerformayor@gmail.com

Campaign Headquarters: 945 Concord Street, Framingham, MA 01701
Hours: Mon – Thurs: 10:00AM – 8:00PM; Fri/Sat/Sun: 10:00AM – 6:00PM
Phone: 508-834-3177

Is there anything else you’d like to tell the voters of District 2?

A Fresh Start

Framingham is at an important crossroad in this election. When you vote for Yvonne Spicer for Mayor you will be voting to give Framingham a fresh start with an open, honest, inclusive administration dedicated to putting us on the right track for decades to come.

The Only Candidate with Executive Leadership Experience

When you vote for Yvonne Spicer you will have a Mayor who is highly regarded at the State level and known around the world for building partnerships between education, business and government with regard to STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. With that reputation and expertise, I will waste no time reaching out to people I already work with on the Governor’s Advisory Council, the Board of the Massachusetts Economic Empowerment Fund Trust, the STEM advisory council, etc. to build new partnerships that will help drive an Innovation Economy in Framingham.

Integrity and Transparency

Framingham’s future and our reputation are both at stake. With Yvonne Spicer as Mayor our government will be transparent, inclusive and honest. It will never be about who you know or what is owed. It will be about what’s best for Framingham. We will make the best choice for Framingham by choosing that path over any other.

I respectfully ask for your support and your vote on September 26th and November 7th. It will be an honor to serve as Framingham’s first Mayor and I promise to work smart and hard every day on behalf of our entire community.

I would like to invite everybody to visit my website to get acquainted with the full range of positions on the issues. The challenges that will face the new mayor are many and diverse. But so are the strengths and abilities of our residents. I intend on bringing us all together for the better future of Framingham from a place of character, integrity, and care for all.

More about Yvonne Spicer:

Access Framingham Candidate Statement

Framingham Now interview:

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