West

Mayoral candidates tell how they’d revitalize Framingham

Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff
Downtown Framingham is seen through the pillars of the Town Hall.

Framingham residents will head to the polls on Nov. 7 to vote for the city’s first mayor. This is the third in a series of questions and answers with the candidates, Yvonne Spicer and John Stefanini, about their goals for the city of Framingham. (The interviews have been edited and condensed.)

Yvonne Spicer, 55

What is your plan for boosting economic development in the city to take the tax burden off residents?

Economic development drives a lot of things. When there are jobs, people can afford to live in the community and contribute to it. It’s all tied together, particularly in the downtown. That’s one of my first target areas — how we build it up with good paying jobs that will allow people to live and enjoy the community. I sit on the Massachusetts Business Roundtable and it’s an advantageous place to be. I will be looking at ways in which businesses could be attracted to come and open up divisions here. We’ve enjoyed having large corporations like Bose and Staples and we have a nice balance of small businesses, but we need to make sure we’re maintaining the inventory and creating opportunities to round it out.

How will you revitalize downtown Framingham?

It requires effective planning and a concerted commitment from the community. One of things I think is so important is to learn from what others have done so far. There are places that have explored this so I’d tap into their expertise — what worked and didn’t. We’ve done this to some degree with Jack’s Abby. We can take that as a best practice and look at how we build around that and grow other types of businesses and restaurants.

What’s your vision for downtown Framingham?

Being one who has lived in downtown Framingham, I remember parking my car and walking to things. I could walk everywhere — restaurants, shops, the dry cleaners. One of the things I see is a resurgence of energy in the downtown and that needs to be continued. It needs to be anchored with businesses that will bring in people who can earn a good wage and live downtown, similar to downtown Hudson and Moody Street in Waltham.

What other parts of the city would you prioritize for development?

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We have a couple of blighted places that have been left dormant for some time — Mt. Wayte and Nobscot plazas. They are unsightly. We need to work with the owners of these properties and come up with an effective plan to benefit the community.

John Stefanini

John Stefanini, 53

What is your plan for boosting economic development in the city to take the tax burden off residents?

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Over the last decade, Natick has seen a 28-percent increase in commercial value, while Framingham has seen a 3-percent reduction, resulting in dramatic increases in residential tax bills. We need to work with our corporate neighbors to ensure they are well served, creating jobs for our residents and producing tax dollars for police, schools, and public works. This is a fundamental difference between myself and the team of people that is supporting my opponent. My opponent is supported by leaders within our government that have frustrated our relationship with major corporate partners like Bose and Staples and TJX. We need to stop vilifying our corporate neighbors and instead bring them into the conversation about how best to improve our community.

How will you revitalize downtown Framingham?

Marlborough, Hudson, Natick, and Waltham have revitalized their downtowns by doing three things that evade us. We need a plan, we need to use all our resources to implement the plan, and we need to support our local businesses. Our current government has an abysmal track record in this area. We’ve squandered resources, distracted ourselves from our real mission and we’ve failed to revitalize ourselves.

What’s your vision for downtown Framingham?

I envision a vibrant center of commerce where people proudly take their friends out on a Saturday night to shop, to dine, to be entertained. I envision daytime activity with anchor tenants including an academic institution — Mass Bay Community College or Framingham State University — that brings energy and enthusiasm to the daytime spaces.

What other parts of the city would you prioritize for development?

Nobscot Plaza, Saxonville, and Mt. Wayte Plaza. We have to collaborate with neighbors to develop a strategic master plan for the individual sites and the area to ensure that whatever changes are made serve and benefit the neighborhoods. For each of these plazas, we need to treat them as unique places with individual solutions. I have a lifetime of experience working with the interested parties on similar projects and am prepared to use those skills, energy, and relationships to remove the blight and decay with something that will have a long-lasting benefit.

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