Framingham Mayor To Raise Rainbow Flag, Push For Diversity Czar

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The mayor of Framingham says she plans to raise the rainbow flag in front of city hall later this year, and she is also asking the city council to fund a director of diversity and inclusion.

Mayor Yvonne Spicer used the word “diversity” six times during her first state-of-the-city speech on Monday night. She used the word “inclusive” three times and the word “inclusion” twice.

The city council declined to fund the diversity czar position during the budget cycle last year, but Spicer vowed to try again.

“I’m going to push a little further to look at diversity in all its forms. I want to make sure that we are inclusive in our government, in our classrooms, and in our community. I’m committed to ensuring that everyone feels welcome and safe in Framingham. Therefore, I am once again requesting that funds be allocated in my budget to hire a Director of Diversity and Inclusion,” Spicer said, according to a text of the speech published on the city’s web site.

“Our City is poised for excellence, and I want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to be as welcoming and inclusive as possible. It is imperative that Framingham has a full-time leadership position to support this work,” she said.

Spicer, who just finished her first year as Framingham’s first mayor, highlighted the diversity of the city’s population.

“As I vowed last January, investing in our people is a critical pillar of my leadership. This investment includes recognizing our diversity and encouraging inclusion, respecting our LGBTQ neighbors, caring for our older adults, strengthening families, providing opportunities for women, and welcoming immigrants,” Spicer said.

Framingham was a town from its founding in 1700 until January 1, 2018, when it became a city. (The mayor used the refrain “And we’ve only just begun” four times during her speech.)

Among the highlights of the past year for the mayor:

“In June, I had an opportunity to participate in the Boston Pride parade with other Mayors. It was exhilarating for me, and affirming for many of our residents,” Spicer said. “In 2019, I plan to raise the rainbow Pride flag in front of City Hall, reaffirming that Framingham is a safe and welcoming community!”

Among other achievements in her first year in office, she said:  “We championed transgender rights and LGBTQ Rights in our work place and established our first ever policy for gender neutral Athletics in Framingham schools.”

Attracting more life sciences companies to Framingham is a goal for the coming year. Spicer identified seven currently in Framingham.

Providing more housing, improving infrastructure and accessibility to public buildings, and increasing access to public transportation are among other goals. She also touted Framingham’s public schools, as well as a strategic plan to make them better.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (a Democrat) attended the speech, as did Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito (a Republican from Shrewsbury) and Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland), whose legislative district includes Framingham.

The 5,116-word speech took about an hour to deliver on Monday, January 28, according to the MetroWest Daily News.

Spicer, a Democrat in her mid-50s, is a former teacher and school administrator. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Cambridge) and U.S. Representative Katherine Clark (D-Melrose) held the Bible during Spicer’s swearing-in ceremony in January 2018, according to the MetroWest Daily News.

Framingham has about 72,000 people and is about 19 miles southwest of Boston.

The city tilts Democratic – Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election 70 to 24 percent.

But it’s not as reflexively left-wing as some cities in the state. Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville, for instance, went more than 80 percent for Clinton in 2016, as did Brookline (which is a town). Newton gave Clinton almost 79 percent.

The Framingham School Committee earlier this month refused to drop Columbus Day from the name of the October holiday in the school calendar, opting instead to keep Christopher Columbus and add “Indigenous Peoples.”