FRAMINGHAM – On November 2, District 2 voters will decide whether to re-elect Councilor Cesar Stewart-Morales or elect Boston University law student and former Framingham High class president Jake Binnall for a 2-year term for City Council.
The current District 2 Councilor Stewart-Morales has endorsed Mayor Yvonne Spicer for re-election. He serves as the chair of the Council’s environmental subcommittee.
SOURCE media sent a detailed and Framingham-specific Q&A to both Council candidates on Sunday, October 17. The responses were due by the end of the day on Saturday, October 23.
The SOURCE Q&A is lengthy but it asks specific questions to help residents learn about the two candidates and to hold the candidate accountable for what they said once elected.
Stewart-Morales did not return the Q&A.
At 9 p.m. on Saturday, he emailed the digital news outlet “Thank you for providing another way, through your publication, for Framingham residents to get to know the candidates running to represent them in our local government. Earlier this week, an unexpected family situation arose that has required my full attention and I will not be able to participate in completing the requested questionnaire in time for the election. I would point FraminghamSource.com readers to my website, www.cesarforframingham.com where they can find more information about my re-election campaign.”
SOURCE offered a time extension until noon on Sunday. The candidate did not respond and the Q&A was not received today, October 25.
Residents in District 2, which includes Precinct 3 and Precinct 5, can read candidate Binnall’s answers by clicking here.
Voters can cast their ballot now if they requested an early ballot or they can vote in person on November 2 between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Binnall, 23, has been endorsed by the Framingham Firefighters union. Binnall also received the endorsement from the Gardner Mayor and several City Councilors from across the Commonwealth
City elections are non-partisan and party affiliations are not on the ballot.
Below is the Q&A that was sent to the two District 2 candidates. As was the case with the Q&A with other contested races, the incumbent and the challenger questions varied.
Preferred name: (for example I prefer Susan not Sue):
Which pronoun do you prefer?
Occupation (be specific):
Why should voters elect you for District 2 City Councilor: (keep to 300 words or less)
Political Website or Facebook page link to find more information:
Describe the City of Framingham in 3 words __________________________
Best thing about District 2 is ____________________.
District 2 needs _________________.
Report Card time. What letter grade would you give the Mayor?
Should the Mayor be required to attend every City Council meeting? (yes or no)
Report Card time: What letter grade would you give the City Council this second term?
Participation in government by the City’s 70,000-plus residents is fabulous, adequate, or lacking (pick one)?
City of Framingham did an (amazing, adequate, or poor job) (pick one) when it came to the Coronavirus pandemic
Should City of Framingham municipal employees be required to get a COVID vaccine? (yes or no)
City of Framingham is on (the right track, spinning its wheels, going backwards) (pick one):
Do you support a split tax rate for businesses and homeowners? (yes or no)
Should City offices close early on Fridays? (yes or no)
Framingham has (too many, just enough, or not enough affordable housing) (pick one)
Do you support in-law apartments in the City of Framingham? (yes or no)
District 2 is treated (better, the same, or worse) than the other 8 Districts (yes or no)
City of Framingham is (ahead of the curve, making progress, or behind its neighboring communities) when it comes to environmental issues
Crime in District 2 is (worse, the same, or less) than the rest of the City of Framingham (yes or no)
Framingham Public Schools receive (too little, just the right amount, or too much) funding.
What City Council subcommittee do you wish to serve on? ___________________________
The #1 issue I hear from residents in my district about is ___________________________________
QUESTION #1: In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing District 2? Incumbent: What have you done during this term to work to eliminate that issue? Be specific Challenger: What will you do – specific steps – to fix the issue?
QUESTION #2: Speeding and traffic are top issues for many residents across all districts. Incumbent: What have you done during this term to work to lessen traffic and speeding issues? Be specific Challenger: What will you do – specific steps – to fix the traffic & speeding issues in District 2 and or throughout the City of Framingham?
QUESTION #3: Businesses are still trying to recover from the pandemic. Incumbent: What have you done to help Framingham-based businesses during the pandemic? What can still be done? Be specific. Challenger: Explain how you would support businesses as they try to not only survive but thrive in Framingham. Be specific
QUESTION #4: Incumbent: Of the votes this term, which recorded vote do you wish you could change? Why? Challenger: Which vote did the District 2 City Councilor take this term that you would have voted differently on and why?
QUESTION #5: The City Council is the legislative branch of government. It creates laws and rules for the City (known as ordinances). Incumbent: What ordinance did you file and or pass during this term? What ordinance would you file to improve your district (or city-wide) if elected? Why? Challenger: What ordinance would you file to improve your district (or city-wide) if elected? Why?
QUESTION #6: The water & sewer enterprise fund is hemorrhaging money according to an independent consultant’s report. What legislation or steps would you put forth to get that fund on firmer financial footing?
QUESTION #7: The Spicer administration did a survey to see how the City should spend more than $25 million in federal pandemic recovery funds. The survey had less than 500 responses from a community of more than 70,000. What is your #1 priority on how to spend the ARPA funds? Why? And how will you get input from your district’s residents on this issue and other key issues if elected?
QUESTION #8: The City Council is responsible for approving the budget that is submitted by the Mayor. The City Council can not increase a budget under the charter, only decrease it. Which city department is underfunded in your opinion? Why?
QUESTION #9: Some in Framingham have said the City is becoming unaffordable. The City Council has the authority to lower budgets requested by the Mayor.
INCUMBENT: Which budget requests did you make a motion to reduce in 2020 and 2021? Did your motion get the support of the full 11-member Council? CHALLENGER: Which budget would you make a motion to reduce in 2022?
QUESTION #10: The clean up at Mary Dennison Park has yet to start. The clean-up at the former General Chemical site finally began months ago but there is not enough funding to completely clean it up. Residents in the Cedar Swamp area have yet to even have a public meeting on the toxins in their neighborhood. There is toxic algae at both Lake Cochituate and Lake Waushakum. Incumbent: You are the chair of the environmental subcommittee for the City Council. What steps have you taken to clean up these toxic sites Challenger: Most of these sites are not in District 2. What role should the District 2 City Councilor have in cleaning up toxic sites in environmental justice neighborhoods and neighborhoods not in their District? What can be done to help reduce these toxins at the lake in District 2?
QUESTION #11: The Mayor and the City Council had a rocky relationship during the Council’s first term. At the start of the second term many of the City Council votes were 6-5 either way, but by the end of this term many of the votes were 8-3 or 9-2 against the Mayor, with the current District 2 Councilor a part of the 2 or 3 votes with the Mayor. Incumbent: Describe your relationship with the current Mayor and talk about how you will work with either mayoral candidate come 2022. What are the keys to a good relationship between the executive and legislative branches of government? What will you do to build that relationship? Challenger: How will you work with the elected mayor if elected City Councilor ? What are the keys to a good relationship between the executive and legislative branches of government? What will you do to build that relationship?
QUESTION #12: Over the last two years, there have been racist acts, anti-semitic incidents, and Hate crimes committed in the City of Framingham. How can Framingham be a more welcoming City for all? It is important to note that both candidates in this race identify as part of the LGTBQ+ community. Describe your experience in being a part of or serving an underrepresented segment of the City. What steps will you take to reduce bias and champion diversity and inclusion in Framingham?
QUESTION #13: During the pandemic, mental health was no longer in the shadows but front center. Anxiety and depression increased not only for students and senior citizens but for many individuals across all socio-economic, and ethnically diverse residents. What role should the city have in addressing mental health issues? What have you been doing in regards to this issue?
QUESTION #14: District 2 is home to both the Noscot Shopping Plaza, which is now an empty plaza with a Giant CVS on the corner. District 2 is also home to an empty parcel of land near A Street. Pinefield Plaza is also in your District. What happened with Nobscot Plaza? What is your vision for these other properties? How will you work with the neighborhoods so they get a project they love?
QUESTION #15: District 2 is home to an empty former fire station and an empty athenaeum. The former McAuliffe library is now the offices for the facilities Department for the City of Framingham. Was there a better use for that building for the neighborhood? What is your vision for these buildings? As the incumbent, what specific steps have you taken in regards to these buildings? If elected on November 2, what will you do to make these buildings vibrant in District 2?