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Women mayors to lead Framingham, Newton, and Salem

(From left) Jonathan Wiggs, Suzanne Kreiter, and Dina Rudick/Globe Staff

(From left) Ruthanne Fuller, Yvonne M. Spicer, and Kim Driscoll.

By John Hilliard Globe Correspondent 

Newton elected its first woman mayor in the city’s history Tuesday as City Councilor Ruthanne Fuller won a hard-fought race against the City Council’s president, Scott F. Lennon.

History was also made in Framingham, where voters picked longtime educator Yvonne M. Spicer as the first mayor to lead the Commonwealth’s newest city.

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And in races north of Boston, Lynn’s incumbent two-term mayor lost reelection, while voters in Salem awarded their mayor with a fourth term.

According to unofficial results from the Newton city clerk’s office, Fuller received 12,405 votes, and Lennon collected 12,061.

Lennon, 47, said Tuesday night that he had called Fuller to concede the race and offered to help her with the transition.

“I love this city. I want to continue to serve,” Lennon said. “She’s a great woman. She’ll do a great job.”

In a brief interview, Fuller, 59, said she is ready to move the city forward.

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“I’m grateful, I’m excited, I’m honored,” Fuller said. “I’m thrilled that our grass-roots campaign connected with the voters of Newton.”

Newton voters also rejected a controversial ballot question to eliminate local ward elections for city councilors and shrink the City Council from 24 to 12 members. Under a proposed new city charter, all 12 councilors would have been elected by a citywide vote; that proposal was shot down with a tally of by a vote of 12,519 no votes to 10,912 yes votes.

In the Framingham mayor’s race, Spicer sailed to victory with 9,128 votes, while John A. Stefanini collected 6,455, according to unofficial results from Town Clerk Valerie Mulvey.

In a tweet to Framingham voters, Spicer said that they had made history: “Excited for our future city.”

Stefanini said he called Spicer to concede after his campaign determined she had won several key precincts.

“I chased a dream of a kid from south Framingham leading our new government. And that’s not going to be the case,” Stefanini said. “But we’ll have a new government that will reach each and every neighborhood of Framingham.”

Mulvey said that 39 percent of Framingham’s 40,162 registered voters cast a ballot in Tuesday’s election.

The contest between Spicer and Stefanini, a former state representative, was Framingham’s first mayoral race since residents decided in April to turn the state’s most populous town into a city.

“This city needs someone who can unify all sides. It’s a very diverse city,” said Mary Ann Markmann outside a polling place at St. Tarcisius Church. She said she supported Spicer because she offered a fresh start for Framingham. “I just believe she would be the one.”

Spicer and Stefanini both said their priorities include economic development, protecting open space, and improving four underperforming public schools.

In Newton, voters cast ballots to replace Mayor Setti Warren, a Democrat who is leaving the post after two terms to run for governor.

Fuller, 59, is a Detroit native and management consultant who lives in Chestnut Hill. Lennon, 47, grew up in the village of Nonantum and is assistant budget director at the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office.

Throughout the race, Fuller and Lennon offered similar positions on issues facing the city: the need for more affordable housing, stronger ties with local businesses, and greater community engagement.

But differences erupted last month, when Lennon published an ad that Fuller said undervalued a woman’s work experience. That triggered a fierce debate within the city about gender roles and socioeconomic class.

On Tuesday, supporters of each candidate focused on why their pick would be the best choice for mayor.

Outside the polling place at Lincoln-Eliot School in Nonantum, Julie Goldman, 57, said she backed Lennon, a longtime neighbor, because he’s a Newton native and has long worked on behalf of residents as a councilor.

“He’s progressive, he listens . . . we’ve been waiting for him to run for mayor,” Goldman said.

Among Fuller’s supporters was Susan Lawrence, 70, who voted at the Church of the Redeemer in Chestnut Hill.

“I’m very pleased with her extraordinary credentials and her capability,” she said of Fuller. “I admire her willingness to throw herself into this to make our communities better.”

In Lynn, Democratic state Senator Thomas M. McGee unseated two-term Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, a Republican. McGee won 9,442 votes to Kennedy’s 5,174, according to unofficial results.

About 28 percent of the city’s voters cast ballots.

McGee, 61, a lifelong Lynn resident, has supported more affordable housing for Lynn and wants to link the local transit system to the rest of the North Shore. He also advocates economic development along the city’s waterfront and investment in road repairs.

Kennedy was first elected mayor in 2009, when she won by just 27 votes over her opponent, then-mayor Edward J. Clancy Jr. Kennedy ran for a second term in 2013, and won by more than 2,800 votes.

But her remarks on immigration the following year sparked protests after she said rising numbers of immigrant children from Central America drained city resources.

About 30,000 of the city’s roughly 92,000 residents were born in another country, according to US Census estimates, and about half speak a language other than English at home.

In Salem, Mayor Kim Driscoll won a fourth term, defeating former councilor Paul Prevey. Driscoll won with 7,982 votes, while Prevey received 4,194, according to unofficial results from the city clerk.

Driscoll, 51, was first elected to the office in 2005 and is the first woman to serve as Salem’s mayor.

Prevey, 50, who retired after a 25-year career as a federal probation officer, served on the Salem City Council from 2006 to 2014.

Salem residents also voted to approve a controversial sanctuary city ordinance reaffirming existing policy that city resources be available to all residents, and that police will not require immigrants to prove they are in the United States legally.

The issue split the mayoral race: Driscoll supported the designation, while Prevey said it was not necessary.

In a special election in Haverhill for the 3rd Essex state representative seat, Democrat Andres X. Vargas defeated Republican Shaun P. Toohey, according to unofficial results on the city’s website. Vargas will succeed Brian S. Dempsey, who resigned to join a lobbying firm.


John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.