Editor’s Note: Mayor Yvonne Spicer gave her farewell address as the City of Framingham’s first-ever mayor tonight, December 16. SOURCE request a copy of her remarks, and was provided the copy below as published.
FRAMINGHAM – Good Evening.
I come to you tonight with a heart full of JOY and GRATITUDE! It has been my HONOR to serve as your Mayor for the last four years. We’ve come through a lot, you and I, and I’m so proud of everything we’ve achieved!
When I was sworn in on January 1, 2018, we began an historic transition from town to City, including a new form of government. I was sworn into office by our City Clerk. I, in turn, swore in 11 City Councilors and 9 School Committee members to join me in upholding the new City Charter and honoring its purpose and intent. Together, we worked to lay a foundation upon which Framingham continues to grow.
When I came into office, I had big dreams for Framingham and I have aimed to manifest those dreams into reality. I committed to leading our city with honesty and integrity, making sure ALL voices mattered.
I chose to focus on five pillars:
- Smoothly transitioning to a City form of government,
- Excellence in education,
- Invigorating our economy,
- Preserving our assets, and
- Investing in our people.
Every year, we have successfully strengthened each pillar to improve our City of Framingham.
The first thing I needed to address was transitioning from a town to a city. This was far more than just changing our name and City seal. It was about establishing a new brand for our City.
I had a guide as to how to begin our transformation in the form of the City Charter. My copy of the Charter is marked up and dog-eared after being by my side each day for the past four years. I never considered the words in the Charter as merely “suggestions”. I regarded the Charter as Framingham’s Constitution, working to defend and uphold it as law. When making decisions over the last four years – and there were a LOT of them! – I paired the guidance from our City Charter with the thought of “How does this BENEFIT the RESIDENTS of Framingham?”
My hope was – and is – for the City to be seen as a place where ANY family or ANY business would be WELCOME to establish roots and PROUD to be part of the Framingham community for decades to come.
I will be the first to admit that, during my time as Mayor, I’ve made some mistakes – as anyone
embarking on a new endeavor will do. Change is hard after 317 years of town history. At the same time, becoming a City has had its benefits and I’ve accomplished SIGNIFICANT achievements for us. We NOW have that “seat at the table”, which has garnered attention for Framingham, opening up resources and opportunities for connection at the state AND federal levels that were otherwise unavailable to us as a town. I have been a front-and-center person, an advocate and outreach agent, a voice and a presence for Framingham, raising our profile in the state and across the country. Framingham… is… KNOWN.
My administration has brought millions of dollars to Framingham. You have seen the impact of these millions in our SCHOOLS:
- One million dollars to make sure that each of our over nine thousand students has a
Chromebook on which to learn; $39 million dollars for the new Fuller Middle School; and increased Chapter 70 funding, bringing millions more to benefit our young scholars;
On our ROADWAYS:
- $3.4 million dollars for intersection improvements in Nobscot, and more than $10 million dollars in federal funding for the upcoming Union Avenue roadway enhancements;
- Grants for green space and walking trails; to support our police and fire departments, reimagine utility design, shore up our storm resiliency, and provide emergency aid for residents…
These are just SOME examples of what has enhanced our budget during my time in office.
I am leaving Framingham on a strong financial footing. Framingham’s AA2 credit rating has remained favorable. We have maintained a healthy $16.5 million dollars in our Stabilization Fund. And, during my time in office, our assets and value have consistently risen every year.
Speaking of assets, we’ve built a new pocket park on Irving Street, and the design and development of a dog park are underway. The Cochituate Rail Trail is now open. And the Bruce Freeman and Chris Walsh Trails and Carol Getchell extension will soon add to the open space we all can enjoy.
As a former educator and administrator, it was important to me to focus on Excellence in Education in my time as your Mayor.
Throughout my tenure, we consistently provided a robust budget for our schools. The school budget has increased by more than 15% – $19.4 million dollars – over the past four years. Roughly 61% of Framingham’s entire budget is provided to the school department to ensure resources to maintain quality education. Now that’s a commitment!
While my five pillars were my priorities as your Mayor, halfway through my time in office, I was faced with something that no one could have predicted – the COVID-19 pandemic. I never lost focus on my commitments but made room to address COVID-19.
I was fortunate to have a seasoned leadership team and together we dove into the unknown waters of a worldwide health crisis not seen in 100 years. We responded swiftly to the pandemic by reorganizing city functions. We worked with partners at the state and national levels to mount a city-wide campaign to RESPOND, EDUCATE, and TRACK our progress.
Consequently, Framingham has been a LEADING example of successful vaccination of nearly 75% of our residents – and our success here continues to grow. Thank you to those of you who have done your part to take care of your community.
As I’ve said before, women represent 51% of the population, but only a tiny percentage are in public office.
And for women of color, that number is even smaller. In 2017, as the first African American woman popularly elected in the state of Massachusetts, I broke a CONCRETE ceiling.
I want to take a moment to personally recognize the importance of who and where I am. My ancestors are smiling upon me because I have done something they never could have imagined in their wildest dreams. To my parents, Bill and Dot Spicer – you raised your girl to make a difference. And though you’re not here to have seen it, I can certainly say I have done that. I have done that.
It’s not lost on me that people NEED TO SEE someone who looks like them showing up, showing out, and making a difference. I strive to be that example, and my PASSION for doing that has only INCREASED in my time as your mayor.
I am no stranger to challenges. Breaking that ceiling came at a price. I was not the candidate that some expected or wanted.
Over the past four years, I certainly have experienced my share of racism and sexism and misogynistic behavior. I was under no delusion that that would go away just because I am a Mayor. It is a faction of our society that unfortunately has been given license to reverberate throughout the country. I implore the residents of Framingham to step up and speak out against this kind of behavior. Our community is BETTER than that.
Framingham is now at a fork in the road. Do we value and include diverse voices in our City leadership? Or do we stay in a place of unsatisfactory “business as usual”? I believe that the strength of Framingham is IN our UNIQUE differences. We should not allow those differences to limit us. Rather, let us respectfully allow those differences to be the building blocks to a better, KINDER Framingham, a GROWING and THRIVING Framingham, a city that we ALL feel COMFORTABLE calling our HOME.
Charlie, I wish you the best as you take on this role. I encourage you to maintain a laser focus on the recovery of our City so that we can stay on a positive trajectory. I pass the baton to you with the hopes that you BUILD upon all of the work we have done to lay a foundation. Those five pillars still remain critically important to our city. Continue to invest in our infrastructure, be intentional with inclusivity, and the SKY’S THE LIMIT!
In the last six weeks, I have been working on wrapping up my time in office and giving thanks to our community and business leaders for their unwavering support and partnership. I want to especially thank the employees of the City of Framingham who have given – and will continue to give – our City their very best every day. We have such an incredible team here. I am FOREVER grateful to have worked with YOU.
Framingham – I am so very proud of what we’ve accomplished in the last four years. Thank you for coming on this JOURNEY with me! At noon on January 1, 2022, I will no longer be your Mayor, but this is by no means “goodbye.” I will continue to be a Framingham resident, your neighbor, AND a friend. We residents have something in common – grit and determination. Like Framingham, there’s no quit in me.
As long as I was representing YOU, I was always motivated to do my BEST. That does not end when I’m no longer Mayor. I will CONTINUE to advocate for Framingham.
I am looking forward to figuring out what my next steps will be. But first, I am eagerly anticipating a good night’s sleep, quietly drinking a HOT cup of coffee, and spending some quality time with folks I have missed while my focus was on Framingham.
For the next sixteen and one-half days, I am your Mayor – the people’s Mayor. I could not be more thankful that you chose ME to be your FIRST Mayor.
Thank you and good night!