Residents opposed to a proposal that would turn the town of Framingham into a city with a strong mayor and 11 city councilors are banding together to fight the plan.
The group, Not This Charter, is led by John Stasik, a former state representative and selectman who was initially behind the movement to change the charter. Stasik said he opposes the Charter Commission’s recommendations because they put too much power in the hands of a few.
“The city charter created by the commission reduces representation and citizen engagement,’’ Stasik said. “To totally dismantle our government and replace it with something different, it better be right. This is not it and adopting it would be a big mistake.’’
A nine-member Charter Commission spent the last 10 months studying different forms of government, and is recommending that Framingham, the 14th most populous community in the state, move to a city form of government with a full-time mayor and 11 city councilors.
Residents will vote on the recommendations during a town election on April 4.
The City Council would have nine district members serving two-year terms and two at-large members serving four-year terms. The mayor would replace the Board of Selectmen as the town’s chief executive, and the City Council, meeting at least monthly, would replace the representative Town Meeting.
Currently, Town Meeting is made up of 216 members — 12 from each of the town’s 18 precincts. However, Town Meeting recently approved a plan to reduce that number to 162 over the next three years by cutting three members from each precinct.
Supporters say Framingham has outgrown the unwieldy town meeting form of government and needs strong leadership and advocacy.
But Stasik said the proposed city structure goes from one extreme to the other. He said decisions for the entire community could be decided by a six-person majority on the City Council. He said he’d like to see a larger City Council, possibly one with as many as 18 people — one for each precinct.
“There are a number of us ready for a city, just not this city,’’ Stasik said. “This is not sufficiently representative and we need a more democratic approach.’’
Stasik said he’d rather see the town meeting form of government stay in place while residents consider other options for a city form of government. Stasik said the group will hold an organizational meeting soon and then will get out signs and flyers urging residents to oppose the charter changes.
“There’s no need to push this city charter through when better options are forthcoming which will ensure a higher level of citizen participation and have a greater impact on Framingham long term,’’ Stasik said.
Jennifer Fenn Lefferts can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.