Op-Ed: Vote Yes For ‘Transparency” And Representation For All Framingham Neighborhoods

EDITOR’S NOTE: Framingham Source invited 10 community members to write op-eds on the ballot question voters will see during the April 4th Town of Framingham election. Voters will be asked to approve a new form of government for Framingham. A vote yes means Framingham would adopt a city form of government, with a Mayor, an 11-member City Council and a 9-member School Committee. A vote no would keep Framingham as a town.
However, the ballot question is not that simple. Every household with a registered voter was mailed a copy of the ballot question. To help voters understand the issues, five individuals wrote a vote yes op-ed and five wrote a vote no op-ed. The series will publish on Source this week with one yes and one no op-ed for five days.

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“It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except all those others that have been tried.” – Winston Churchill.

When I was asked to give my opinion on the City/Town vote on April 4th my initial reaction was to say, “It’s complicated.”

And then I thought back to that wonderful quote from Winston Churchill, and realized that, yes, it’s imperfect. It might be ugly at times. But aren’t we all fortunate to live in a time and space that we can argue, and compare, and question all the aspects of our current government.

The Charter Commission was an elected group, so let’s start there.

When I cast my ballot to choose the Charter Commission, I did so knowing full well the merit and attributes of the people I was electing. I respect them all. I feel that Framingham is fortunate to have such an intelligent group of people who are willing to give their time and energy to draft this charter. At no time have I doubted their integrity or their dedication to Framingham. I would like to take a second to thank them all.

As a dedicated (read “compulsive”) reader of both Frambors and Framgov, I have been following along with all of the rhetoric on Framgov involving the Charter.

Most of the time I refrain from commenting. Why? Because I feel that most of the contributors to both of these sites are there because they’ve already made their mind up; they already have decided (perhaps long ago?) how they will vote on April 4th.

I live in what is now Precinct 14.

As a former Town Meeting Precinct Chair, I know what it’s like to go out in the community and try to get people to join town meeting. I know how hard it is to try and gather a community consensus, even regarding issues that were unique to our part of town. Everyone is busy. Everyone has SO much going on. And, having also lived in the north side of town, I appreciated the differences between my former neighborhood and our current home.

Town Meeting is a HUGE time commitment, and it’s frustrating to sit in Nevins Hall and spend hours debating insignificant issues, while voting in huge pre-determined budgets in minutes. It also was frustrating to be a member of a standing committee, to spend countless hours preparing and debating a position on an issue, only to have the report not have any impact on decreasing the debate on the floor when the question arose.

We need a more efficient and effective way to govern Framingham.

This charter appeals to me as a math-oriented person. I appreciate that representation will be fairly allocated throughout Framingham both with regards to the Council and also with regards to School Committee.

Although I, myself, have been asked (LONG ago!) to run for School Committee, it’s been a long time since “Southside” or “The Ham” (my kids’ name for where we live, just North of Downtown) have been represented on School Committee. With this Charter, representation from all neighborhoods will be a requirement.

I appreciate that there are checks and balances and that the Commission did their due diligence in getting equal representation for ALL sections of Framingham. I am proud of the group of people I helped elect to the Charter Commission, and I applaud their work.

When I read through the Charter I am struck by how aware the authors of the manuscript were careful to maximize the transparency of government and ensure checks and balances throughout the system.

As much as Town supporters have suggested that the town form of government allows for maximum access by citizens to those in “power”, this Charter sets forth clearly how all citizens of Framingham can be sure that those making the decisions will not only be working in our best interest but also will be available to listen to individuals who have concerns, in a timely manner.

To finish, I can only tell you that I had a great phone call with my ex-husband the other night. He’s known me since the 80’s and has his Masters in Political Science. We started talking about the Town/City question (I had called him to be sure I was quoting Winston Churchill properly) and he assumed at the start of the conversation that I’d be pro-Town, as he knew I’d been a member of Town Meeting.

Not only did our talk help him see why I was pro-City, that conversation with someone who asked so many pointed, reasonable questions helped me pull together this article. (I’m not a writer most days, I’m more intuitive than judgmental!)  

I hope I’ve expressed myself here as well as I did with him.

There are no perfect answers, but I truly believe that we need to more towards a more efficient, effective form of government and I believe this Charter is the answer.
Renee Faubert

Framingham Source Editor

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: editor@FraminghamSource.com Phone: 508-315-7176

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