Metro

The ‘largest town’ in Mass. just voted to become a city

Framingham Town Hall.
JESSICA RINALDI/GLOBE STAFF/FILE
Framingham Town Hall.

The town of Framingham will now be known as the city of Framingham.

After years of debate and unsuccessful attempts to change the town meeting form of government, residents voted Tuesday to become a city by a narrow margin.

The vote was 5,684 in favor, to 5,579 against the change, a difference of just 105 votes.

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About 28 percent of the town’s 39,910 registered voters turned out for the annual town election, officials said

Mary Kate Feeney, the chair of Framingham First, which initiated the campaign to change the town’s charter, said in a statement that she is excited to see the next chapter in Framingham’s future.

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“After nearly a century of attempts to make Framingham a city, voters finally decided to defy the past and embrace the future,’’ she said. “Voters firmly proclaimed that our local government needs to represent all of us and support vibrant neighborhoods and quality schools, values our elders, celebrates diversity, invests in small businesses and increases community participation.’’

John Stasik, a former Framingham selectman and state representative who led the opposition group, Not This Charter, said he’s considering a recount.

“We’re talking about all the various options,’’ Stasik said. “This is not a mandate.’’

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Stasik opposed the proposal because he thinks the changes are too extreme and will put too much power in the hands of a few.

Assistant Town Clerk Lisa Ferguson said if a recount is requested, the ballots would be counted manually. She said it’s not unusual for a recount to take place if the vote difference is less than 1 percent, which it is in this case.

If the results don’t change, an election will be held in November to choose a mayor and 11 city councilors to govern the commonwealth’s 14th most populous community. Framingham has a population of nearly 70,000 people.

Under the new charter, the City Council will have nine district members serving two-year terms and two at-large members serving four-year terms. The mayor will replace the Board of Selectmen as the town’s chief executive, and the City Council, meeting at least monthly, will replace the representative Town Meeting.

Currently, Town Meeting is made up of 216 members – 12 from each of the town’s 18 precincts.

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The vote was the third time Framingham voters were asked to change its form of government. Residents overwhelmingly rejected ballot questions calling for a city form of government in 1978 and 1997.

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