After Framingham City Council Rejects Slate, Mayor Spicer Re-Submits Same Candidates For Disability and Parks & Recreation Commission

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The following is a press release

FRAMINGHAM – Mayor Yvonne M. Spicer submitted nominations to City Council, including the appointments of Richard Finlay (District 2), Meghan Todd (District 4), and Tyler Terrasi (District 4), to the Disability Commission. At the August 4 City Council meeting, nominations were rejected based on the claim that the process was not done correctly, and candidates not selected for appointment by the Mayor were not properly notified.

On August 19, the Mayor’s Office received notice from City Council stating the following: “Please be advised that at its meeting held on August 4, 2020, the City Council voted 10-0-1 to reject the following candidates for appointment to the Disability Commission: Richard Finlay (District 2), Meghan Todd (District 4) and Tyler Terrasi (District 4). Please note that this rejection is not based on the individuals presented, nor their qualifications or expertise.”

This memorandum does not identify the claimed error stated in the deliberation by the City Council on August 4, which essentially resulted in the rejection of three qualified candidates. An overview summarizing and clarifying inaccurate claims regarding the appointments process is listed below.

  • On May 7, the Mayor’s Office published a list of Board, Commission, and Committee volunteer opportunities and welcomed applications through June 5 or until a position is filled. This caveat was intentionally included in consideration of the state of our community with COVID-19.
  • On June 30, 2020, three Disability Commission seats became open and available to the community.
  • A total of six applications were received.
  • All applicants received communication from the Office of the Mayor, including acknowledgment of receipt, status updates, an invitation to interview, and a notice of decision.
  • Criteria considered, but not limited to, by the Mayor (not listed in any particular order):
    • Board/commission/committee membership criteria and qualifications;
    • Representation of specialized knowledge;
    • Professional and personal experience;
    • Demographic diversity including race and ethnicity, underrepresented communities, LGBQT+ community, people with disabilities, age, gender;
    • Geographic representation;
    • Existing board composition;
    • Passion, desire, and commitment to perform public service;
    • Potential conflict of interest identified on the application.
    • Upon consideration, the Mayor submitted the nominations of three qualified candidates to the City Council, including one resident selected for reappointment and two residents who have never served on a city board or commission who meet the criteria above.
    • Candidates nominated for an appointment, as well as those not selected for appointment, all received written notice of decision simultaneously with submission to City Council. Candidates not selected for appointment received email correspondence from the Citizen Participation Officer, encouraging them to explore other opportunities.

“It is a practice of my office to work with board members, current and perspective, to ensure a consistent and equitable process. Members whose terms expire are notified in advance. The member is encouraged to submit a new application if they wish to be considered for reappointment. To ensure an inclusive process, we advertise and solicit applications from the community by posting on the website, social media platforms, and direct outreach to Councilors.” said Mayor Spicer.    

Similarly, on August 6, the nominations of David Gudejko (District 1) and Tony Tolson (District 3) to the Parks and Recreation Committee were submitted to City Council for consideration. On August 18, the City Council voted to reject nominations questioning the integrity of the process, advocating on behalf of one particular candidate, and making inaccurate statements regarding Conflict of Interest for a candidate selected for appointment. 

On August 19, the Mayor’s Office received a memorandum from the office of City Council stating the following: “Please be advised that at its meeting held on August 18, 2020, the City Council voted 11-0-0 to reject the following candidates for appointment to the Parks and Recreation Commission: David Gudejko (District 1) and Tony Tolson (District 3). Please note that this rejection is not based on the individuals presented, nor their qualifications or expertise. Further, the Council is seeking an explanation on the process for these appointments and how a very qualified applicant was not considered.” 

The summary below outlines the process for appointments to the Parks and Recreation Commission.

  • On May 7, the Mayor’s Office published a list of Board, Commission, and Committee volunteer opportunities and welcomed applications through June 5 or until a position is filled. This caveat was intentionally included in consideration of the state of our community with COVID-19.
  • As of June 30, 2020, two seats became available and open to the community.
  • A total of five applications were received.
  • All applicants received communication from my office, including acknowledgment of receipt, status updates, an invitation to interview, and a notice of the decision.
  • Criteria considered by the Mayor (not listed in any particular order):
    • Board/commission/committee membership criteria and qualifications;
    • Representation of specialized knowledge;
    • Professional and personal experience;
    • Demographic diversity including race and ethnicity, underrepresented communities, LGBQT+ community, people with disabilities, age, gender;
    • Geographic representation;
    • Existing board composition;
    • Passion, desire, and commitment to perform public service;
    • Potential conflict of interest identified on the application.
    • Upon consideration, the Mayor submitted the nominations of two qualified candidates to the City Council, including one resident selected for reappointment and one resident who has never served on a city board or commission. Both met the criteria above.
    • Candidates nominated for an appointment, as well as those not selected for appointment, all received written notice of the decision simultaneously with submission to the City Council. Candidates not selected for appointment received email correspondence from the Citizen Participation Officer, encouraging them to explore other opportunities.

When members of the City Council single out and advocate for one specific applicant, it creates an unwelcoming environment, especially for those who also were not selected. Applying to serve, lead, and be part of the democratic process is a difficult decision, especially for community members with no previous experience serving on a government public body.

The Parks and Recreation Commission is a policy-making board. It does not have the authority to direct day to day operations or the ability to hire or set wages for employees. Tony Tolson’s service on the Parks and Recreation Commission would not create a conflict of interest. His experience in programming and collaborating with local organizations will benefit the community-at-large. Mr. Tolson will also bring a missing piece to the committee as existing committee composition includes membership of residents whom all identify as white.

“I am grateful for those who stepped up and consider each of the five nominated applicants brave, passionate, and qualified individuals. We are moving in a new direction. Having a competitive process means we have a civically engaged and driven community. There are times we are faced with difficult decisions; however, I assure you that my office is consistent, inclusive, and welcoming in the process of appointment. It is my hope that this information clarifies the false narrative, which resulted in the rejection of five qualified candidates.” said Mayor Spicer.

For these reasons, I am resubmitting the nominations of Richard Finlay (District 2), Meghan Todd (District 4), and Tyler Terrasi (District 4) to the Disability Commission and David Gudejko (District 1) and Tony Tolson (District 3) to the Parks and Recreation Commission.

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