Brendan Fitzpatrick

January 16, 2024

Framingham Charter Review Committee Recommends to Keep City Council As Is

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FRAMINGHAM - Members of the Framingham Charter Review Committee voted on Thursday, January 11, to recommend that the makeup and size of the City Council remain as is.

Votes from the committee, which is tasked with reviewing the Framingham Home Rule Charter and suggesting any amendments to it, are meant to guide the process. Multiple committee members noted at the most recent meeting that their votes do not represent an official change to the charter.

By a 5-4 vote, the committee recommended to keep the City Council size and structure in tact.

“Based on my judgment, reading the comments, and particularly giving some consideration to the people who are really involved and the City Councilors: I just don’t think we should change anything,” Vice Chair Susan Craighead told her colleagues.

"I think it’s working. I’m very much in favor of the at-large councilors, because I think they bring a different perspective. I think they have a stronger voice.”

Conversations among the Charter Review Committee regarding the size and composition of the City Council began last month, when it was decided that the group would seek additional feedback on a few potential changes. The options provided to residents via an online survey were:

A. No changes to the 11-member City Council, which currently features two at-large representatives in addition to the nine disctrict councilors,

B. Having three regional councilors—officials who would represent multiple districts at once, but not the city as a whole—replace the two at-large spots, bringing the total number of councilors to 12,

C. Adding those three regional councilors while keeping just one at-large councilor, for a count of 13 seats, and

D. Having four at-large councilors instead of two, for a total of 14 spots on the City Council

The online survey showed that 314 out of 333 respondents provided a preference to one of those options; some people who took the poll did not give a specific answer to the prompt. A total of 36% of those who did answer said they preferred the current makeup of the City Council, while 32.4% were in favor of Option B, 13% endorsed Option D, and 12.6% voted for option C.

Members of the Charter Review Committee continued to share their thoughts on the potential composition of the City Council, discussing factors such as the effectiveness of the current system as well as the cost and feasibility of running at-large campaigns.

“We’re trying to build the structure that, as best as it can, enables good government…The closer you can bring your representatives to the actual people they represent, the better,” committee member Andy Limeri said as he explained his support for Option B.

The group added a recommendation that the next Charter Review Committee revisit this specific topic with additional data, public opinion, and context at their disposal regarding the participation and cost for at-large elections. As it currently stands, the Home Rule Charter is mandated to undergo a review starting in every year that ends in a 3.

Later in 2024, the City Council will vote on enacting any changes to the charter following the committee’s final recommendations.

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