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How it looks out west: Four mayors size up 2020

Traffic improvements are a priority for Waltham Mayor Jeannette A. McCarthy. Moody Street is pictured above.
Traffic improvements are a priority for Waltham Mayor Jeannette A. McCarthy. Moody Street is pictured above.Lane Turner/Globe Staff
Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer
Framingham Mayor Yvonne SpicerBarry Chin/Globe Staff

FRAMINGHAM

Yvonne M. Spicer

■  Elected mayor in 2017

■  Population: 73,123

What are two of the biggest challenges facing your city?

One of them would be economic development, because when you have strong development, then there’s opportunity for people to move to your city. And just like a lot of other cities, we are grappling with having enough affordable housing.

What is at the top of your agenda for 2020?

In January, we will have seven new city councilors out of 11. That’s a huge turnover in terms of institutional knowledge of city governance, so a priority for me in this coming term is building a relationship with that new council. I will also continue to concentrate on the five pillars I have consistently focused on since taking office: economic development, excellence in education, open spaces, public safety, and also investing in our people. We’ve done a lot in those categories, but I also want to look at the work that needs to continue.

What makes your city a great place to live?

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It is without a doubt the people of Framingham. They are the heart and soul of this community. Framingham is diverse in so many ways: It is culturally diverse, socio-economically diverse, geographically quite diverse. One of the things that I am particularly proud of is that people know how to come together to support a cause or an initiative.

Marlborough Mayor Arthur G. Vigeant
Marlborough Mayor Arthur G. VigeantNicole LeBlanc

MARLBOROUGH

Arthur G. Vigeant

■  First elected mayor in 2011

■  Population: 39,825

What are two of the biggest challenges facing your city?

We are having some real traffic issues like everyone else in the state. We have limited public transportation, so we’re trying to come up with some unique ideas to move traffic through the community a little better.

We are redoing quite a few roads and also replacing water and sewer lines. We need to continue infrastructure improvements while balancing our residential real estate taxes.

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What is at the top of your agenda for 2020?

In addition to those projects, we are building a new school that’s opening next June. We have a library project starting next year. And we are planning for a new public safety facility on the west side of town. So we want to make sure these projects continue moving forward.

What makes your city a great place to live?

We have everything big cities have except for some of the headaches. We have our own beach, great restaurants, the second-largest number of hotel rooms in the state. We have the largest ice skating facility in North America with New England Sports Center, and now the new Apex Entertainment center. So there’s lots here for everyone to do. We think our housing stock is reasonable, and we have plenty of jobs for people who decide to move here.

Ruthanne Schwartz Fuller
Ruthanne Schwartz Fuller

NEWTON

Ruthanne Fuller

■  Elected mayor in 2017

■  Population: 88,904

What are two of the biggest challenges facing your city?

The collision of housing unaffordability, traffic congestion, climate change repercussions, and making sure we continue to have a wonderful quality of life is coming together in the challenge of thoughtfully and proactively planning our future.

What’s at the top of your agenda for 2020?

Maintaining the excellence of our Newton Public Schools is always on the top of our agenda. We’ll work to find the right location and design a new community center focused on seniors. We’ll improve our roads, sidewalks, and bike lanes, and start construction on major road improvement along Washington Street in West Newton Square and Walnut Street in Newtonville. Construction will begin on a new home for our pre-school. A redesign of our zoning ordinance will ensure neighborhoods are preserved and our villages and commercial corridors thrive. We’ll consider and mold development proposals so they work for Newton. I will also work hard to listen and encourage respectful, inclusive give-and-take.

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What makes your city a great place to live?

Newton is an extraordinary community with caring, involved people from a variety of backgrounds in 13 unique villages. We have great neighborhoods, excellent schools, a top-notch library, a convenient location, and lots of ways to connect meaningfully with others through art and culture, advocacy groups, and faith communities.

Waltham Mayor Jeannette A. McCarthy
Waltham Mayor Jeannette A. McCarthy Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

WALTHAM

Jeannette A. McCarthy

■  First elected mayor in 2003

■  Population: 62,962

What are two of the biggest challenges facing your city?

One of them is overdevelopment and the associated environmental impacts it poses on the city. Those impacts include increased density and traffic, and the added burden placed on our infrastructure, including our water, sewer, and drainage systems, and our streets, as well as the need for replacement of gas lines by National Grid and the subsequent paving of those roads.

The second major challenge we face is education, including our increasing school enrollment and the need to continue meeting the needs of our students.

What is at the top of your agenda for 2020?

Public safety and public education. I want to focus on the construction of the new Waltham High School, the Moody Street Fire Station project, the building of a new Main Street bridge over Route 128, and other local traffic improvements. Other continuing priorities are the acquisition of the UMass Field Station and Farm, and water, sewer, drainage, paving, street, and sidewalk projects.

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The city departments, boards, and commissions and I will work collaboratively with the citizens, the City Council, and the School Committee.

What makes your city a great place to live?

It’s our people, location, great neighborhoods, recreational opportunities, and great city services, with no rubbish or user fees.


Interviews were edited and condensed. John Laidler can be reached at laidler@globe.com.