FRAMINGHAM – On November 7, voters will elect Framingham’s first mayor.
On Tuesday, September 26, voters narrowed the seven choices to two candidates Yvonne Spicer and John Stefanini.
Framingham Source requested the voting records of both candidates for the last decade from the Framingham Town Clerk’s office.
Stefanini has voted in every local election between 2007-2017. He also participated in state and federal elections.
Spicer, while voting in state and federal elections, voted in just two local elections in the last decade, including 2016, where she won a write-in seat as a Town Meeting member.
Spicer voted in the March 29 local election that created a charter commission, to consider a move to a city form of government; and she voted on April 4 this year, when voters by the narrowest margins approved the new City form of government. Spicer has said she cast a no vote for the City form of government.
Between 2015 and 2007, Spicer did not vote in any of the Town of Framingham local elections, which means she did not participate to elect the Board of Selectmen nor the Framingham School Committee, nor any Town Meeting members.
“While my life’s work prepares me to be the best mayor, I haven’t spent my life carefully preparing for a political career. Over the last ten years, I have voted in every federal, state, and primary election. I haven’t always voted in local elections,” said Spicer in a statement.
“I think for a lot of people it seems like local elections don’t often matter – too often our community has been run by many of the same names and folks who have been around for decades. These people are committed public servants and we should applaud their work. But our options for true citizen-participation have seemed limited. We need to break that cycle and elect bold, thoughtful leaders,” said Spicer.
“I made a decision in 2016 to reengage in our town government after not voting locally for a while,” said Spicer.
Spicer was elected to a Town Meeting seat as a write-in candidate, with six votes in 2016, according to Town records.
“My decision led me to increase my local involvement, so I joined Town Meeting and even the Standing Committee on Ways and Means, which offered me the opportunity to get a full perspective of municipal operations,” said Spicer.
In comparison, Stefanini voted in every local election between 2007-2017.
“I proudly vote and participate in the civic, philanthropic, religious and educational affairs of Framingham,” said Stefanini about his voting record.
Both candidates are registered Democrats.
Spicer, who appeared on a ballot for the first time in September 2017, is not alone in not voting in local elections.
Voter turnout for local elections, has historically always been lower than the participation in state and federal elections.
For example, in April 28% of Framingham’s registered voters participated in the historic election to make Framingham a city.
In September, about 29% of registered voters decided Spicer and Stefanini should appear on the November 7 ballot as mayoral candidates.
But in November 2016, 71% of Framingham’s registered voters participated in the presidential election between Clinton and Trump.
And in November 2014, 50% of Framingham’s registered voters came out to choose between Charlie Baker elected Governor and Martha Coakley.
In 2016, just 14.5% of registered voters participated in the local Framingham election, and in 2015, there was only a 7 percent turnout.
University of Wisconsin researchers, who collected data on municipal elections in about 150 major cities in the United States, concluded participation in municipal elections is declining nationwide. In 2001, about 26.6 percent of cities’ voting-age population cast ballots, while about 21 percent did so in 2011.
“You can hardly go two minutes without hearing about the importance of voting for president, and how much your voice matters, but less attention is given to the impact of local politics. Local politics influence all of the decisions that have a direct influence on our day-to-day lives, from the laws we’re most worried about abiding by, to the streets we drive on and whether or not they’re riddled with potholes, to whether or not we’ll have to pay for plastic bags at the grocery store, and more,” wrote Becky Kip, founder and CEO of Hear My Voice for a piece for The Hill.
“These local elections concern the offices and issues that have clear and immediate implications for voters in their day-to-day lives – arguably more so than federal contests,” wrote Gavin Weise with the U.S. Vote Foundation.