Framingham’s selectmen say they will help transition to city
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While opponents seek a recount of Tuesday's vote to change Framingham's charter, selectmen say they'll focus on helping the state's largest town transition into a city.
Residents approved a ballot question changing the municipality's government structure by a vote of 5,690 to 5,582, a margin of just 108 votes.
Noting the tight election results, selectmen chairwoman Cheryl Tully Stoll called on residents to pull together for Framingham's future.
"This isn't a great community because of its form of government," Stoll said Wednesday. "This is a great community because of our people and our values. Neither of those changed yesterday."
Framingham is set to become a city at noon on Jan. 1, 2018, with a mayor and city council. However, a group of residents opposed to the change has begun efforts to seek a recount.
"We will do everything we have to do to get this verified,'' said John Stasik, leader of the group, Not this Charter.
Stasik said the group has taken out paperwork from the town clerk's office to get the recount process started and needs to collect at least 10 signatures from registered voters in each of the 18 precincts.
Assistant Town Clerk Lisa Ferguson said the group has until 5 p.m. on April 14 to submit the signatures for certification. Once the signatures are certified, the town will set a date for a public hearing and recount. She said officials will manually count ballots only for the charter question.
The recount will take place at Town Hall and be open to the public. She said a date has not been set but hopes the entire process will be completed within a month.
Stasik said it's a lengthy process but one that is worth pursuing.
"It's a pretty big deal to put everyone through but we all felt it was so close, we want to be absolutely sure,'' he said.
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.
Stoll said selectmen will appoint a seven-member panel within the next 30 days to begin reviewing the town's bylaws and make any needed changes to eliminate conflicts with the new city charter.
Stoll and board colleague Laurie Lee were re-elected Tuesday, during the same vote that will end their careers as selectmen.
Stoll said selectmen would "avoid making any controversial decisions" that would likely be reversed by a new city administration, and that residents will not see any interruptions in town services during the transition.
Lee said she doesn't oppose a recount, noting the charter's narrow ballot box victory is not a clear mandate from voters.
"People still want to be involved" in their community's government, Lee said. "I hope the new administration will take that into account."