Framingham voters selected the candidates for Framingham’s first city government positions during a primary election on Tuesday, Sept. 26.
The main election will occur on Nov. 7.
Of the seven mayoral candidates on the ballot, Yvonne Spicer and John Stefanini received the most votes and will move forward in the race.
President F. Javier Cevallos called Tuesday’s election “a historic moment for Framingham.
“All of the candidates demonstrated their commitment to our community. We are looking forward to the November election and to working with the new city and its elected officials in the future,” he added.
Voters in April elected to switch from a town form of government to a city. Residents voted this week in primary elections to narrow the number of candidates running in each race.
In November, voters will elect one of the two
candidates for mayor and one of the two candidates in their districts running for city councilor. Two of four candidates will be chosen by all voters to be city councilors at large.
Yvonne Spicer, a vice president of advocacy and educational partnerships at the Museum of Science and a former Framingham school teacher, received over half of the ballots cast for mayor with a total of 5,964 votes.
In a statement to The Gatepost, Spicer said, “I am running as The People’s Mayor to represent all of Framingham, to make this transition from a town to a city successful. We will strive to be a role model city – a city people are proud to be a part of, a city where education and quality of life are top priorities.
“I want to build partnerships with Framingham State University, Mass Bay Community College and our local and national businesses. Students, alumni and all who contribute to our community are critical to our success,” said Spicer.
Spicer celebrated her victory at The Aegean Restaurant in Framingham, where she told voters, “Your voice was heard, and it was heard loud and clear. I am honored to move forward in this race, but we’re not done yet. I still need you.”
John Stefanini, a lawyer at a firm in Cambridge and former state representative, received 3,184 votes.
In a statement to The Gatepost, Stefanini said, “We are fortunate to have FSU in our community. Not only do students from around the world come to Framingham for higher education, but it gives our own students the chance for a college education in their hometown. The richness of diversity at FSU compliments the diversity we are so proud of here in Framingham. FSU’s programs, like the Christa McAuliffe Center or the Entrepreneur Innovation Center, are wonderful assets to our community.
“We need FSU students and alumni to stay involved and engaged with Framingham. … We need your ideas, skills and education to help keep businesses going and bring innovative ideas to government,” said Stefanini.
Stefanini and his supporters celebrated at La Cantina.
“What a great day for Framingham. This is a historic and important election for our community – probably one of the most important in our community’s history,” he said.
Jovan Perez, a sophomore, said other than Stefanini, Spicer and Sousa, he didn’t know of any of the candidates.
“I know about Sousa because we went to the same high school,” he said.
The Town Clerk ordered 43,500 ballots and reported voter turnout was 24.97 percent.
Senior Marina Coppola said, “I heard not a lot of people went out to vote. I think that’s discouraging because, even though I don’t vote here, I think people should get out and vote if they want to see something change.”
Ira Silver, sociology professor, said, “I did not vote yesterday, and if I did, the candidate I would have chosen got about 100 votes.”
The turnout for this election was slightly lower than the turnout for April’s vote to become a city. However, the turnout was much higher than for municipal elections in 2015 and 2016.
Framingham State falls into three separate voting districts: 3, 5 and 6.
Erica Mash, a volunteer for Spicer’s campaign who greeted voters at Brophy Elementary School in District 3, said, “She’s a very bright woman, a phenomenal listener, an educated woman and an educator. She’s a consensus builder.”
Richardson added that if he voted, he may have supported candidate Josh Horrigan because he sang Stapleton Elementary School’s theme song earlier this month during a debate – a song Richardson said “is near and dear to my heart.”
District 3 city council candidate, Adam Steiner greeted voters outside of Brophy on Tuesday for most of the day.
“I left for a half hour to get a PB&J at home,” said Steiner.
He received the most votes in his district’s city council race: 764.
“I grew up here. I chose to raise my family here. Framingham has great diversity in its geography and its people. … I’m running because, with the shift in government, there’s a chance to go off track,” he said.
Joel Winett received 454 votes in the same district. Winett and Steiner will compete for their district’s city council seat.
Winett said, “I want to put my experience to use on the city council. I have knowledge of town government and I’d like to apply it to the city. I’m not a bystander in the community – I do my homework.”
He added, “I’ve audited 40 classes at FSU in government, music and art. The faculty was superb and welcomed senior auditors.”
Millie González, interim chief officer of diversity, inclusion and community engagement, said, “As a resident of Framingham, I am excited to see two worthy candidates for mayor.”
González invited students to attend a debate on campus next month featuring Spicer and Stefanini.
“I am eager to hear each candidate’s position. I care about Framingham deeply. When I moved from New York City to Framingham 20 years ago, I wanted a community that was diverse, tolerant and a good place to raise my family. My next vote will support these values,” she said.
Margareth Shepard, District 7 city council candidate, said, “Framingham voters showed that they want a city that is inclusive and represents their diverse population.”
She added, “FSU and its students can expect full support, with a strong collaborative relationship that will contribute to constant educational improvements in our new city.”
Howard Pothier, a Stefanini supporter from Marlborough, said Stefanini is “a great man. He’s loyal. … I think he’s the man for the job. He’s a personal guy, family man. He’s for the working class. I think he’s the best quality of all of the candidates.”
Cesar Monzon, a current selectman, supported George King Jr. for city councilor at large and Stefanini for mayor.
“[King’s] kids and my kids went to school together. He was a town manager, so he’s well known,” said Monzon.
Bob Snider, zoning board member and a town meeting member for 20 years, voted for Stefanini and Phil Ottaviani Jr., who is also a zoning board member.
He said Stefanini and Ottaviani Jr. are “high-value candidates, people who have given thousands upon thousands of hours to the town. They know ‘where the bodies are buried,’ you could say.”
The city of Framingham’s newly elected government will take office on Jan. 1 and registration for November’s election is open through Oct. 18.