West

Race is on to become Framingham’s first mayor

Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff/File

Downtown Framingham is seen through the pillars of the Town Hall.

A selectman, a state representative, and a resident who has served in both those positions are interested in becoming Framingham’s first mayor.

Selectman Charles Sisitsky, Democratic state Representative Chris Walsh, and John Stefanini, a former selectman and state representative, all say they are considering a run to lead the new city.

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The mayor’s salary will start off the same as the current town manager’s salary — $186,639.50 — but can be changed by the City Council. The initial salary would be among the highest in the state.

The Somerville mayor makes $181,731; Boston, $175,000; Waltham, $131,095; Newton, $125,000; and Marlborough, $86,870.

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Residents narrowly approved a ballot question earlier this month that changes the government structure from a town to a city. Framingham is the state’s most populous town, with just under 70,000 residents.

“I’m flattered by the encouragement I’ve received, and I’m taking some time to give it serious consideration,’’ said Stefanini, who was a member of the Charter Commission that recommended moving to a city form of government.

Walsh said he’s talking to residents, organizing, and trying to get a sense of what the community is looking for in a mayor.

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“It’s a distinct possibility,’’ Walsh said. “I’m in reasonably good shape from my being known around town.’’

Sisitsky has served on the Board of Selectmen for 20 years and has been involved in municipal government for nearly 40. “I am strongly considering it,’’ he said.

The vote to switch Framingham’s government was 5,690 in favor to 5,582 against the change. Opponents asked for a recount, which will take place Monday, April 24, at 9 a.m. at Nevins Hall in the Memorial Building, 150 Concord St.

If the results don’t change, an election will be held Nov. 7 to choose a mayor, 11 city councilors, and nine School Committee members to govern the commonwealth’s 14th most populous community. The new city government would start Jan. 1, 2018.

Nomination papers for those positions will be available May 1 and must be returned by July 1. If necessary, a preliminary election will be held Sept. 26.

Stefanini served on the Board of Selectmen from 1991 to 1997 and as a state representative from 1992 to 2001. He is now an attorney in Boston.

“This is a full-time position with a more than full-time commitment. It’s not something I would look at lightly,’’ Stefanini said of the mayoral post. “I’d like to play a more active role in the new government. What that is, I haven’t quite figured out.’’

Walsh, an architect who was elected to the state Legislature in 2010, has served on several town boards and committees. He is also a former Town Meeting member.

Walsh said he supported the move to a city form of government and thinks this will be a “fascinating’’ time to help shape Framingham’s future.

“Framingham is already a pretty unbelievable community,’’ he said. “It’s never been about saving Framingham. It’s more about how it can be better going into the future.”

Sisitsky is retired but previously served as the public works director for the town of Natick. He’s served on Framingham Finance Committee and as a Town Meeting member.

“I think I’m uniquely qualified to ease the transition to a city form of government,’’ he said. “I’ve been talking to a lot of people and getting a lot of positive feedback.’’

Sisitsky didn’t take a formal position on the question to become a city but said he voted against it.

As potential candidates mull their options, the town’s Board of Selectmen is preparing for the transition. The new Framingham charter directs the board to appoint seven individuals to a committee to review the town bylaws for compliance with the new charter. This committee will prepare revisions and amendments as necessary. Two of the seven committee members must be former members of the Charter Commission.

Residents interested in serving should send the board an application, resume, and letter of interest by 5 p.m. Monday, April 24. The board is expected to appoint the committee Tuesday, May 2. Applications are available on the town’s website at www.FraminghamMA.gov.

Jennifer Fenn Lefferts can be reached at jflefferts@yahoo.com.
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