Framingham voters oust state’s first Black female mayor

“Serving as the mayor of Framingham has been the honor of my life.”

Yvonne Spicer
Mayor Yvonne Spicer lost her re-election bid to fellow Democrat Charlie Sisitsky, a well-known political figure in Framingham. Ken McGagh/MetroWest Daily News via AP

BOSTON (AP) — The same day that voters elected Michelle Wu as Boston’s first female and first Asian American mayor, voters in Framingham ousted Yvonne Spicer, the first Black woman to run a city in Massachusetts.

The 59-year-old Spicer lost her re-election bid Tuesday to fellow Democrat Charlie Sisitsky, 76, a well-known political figure in Framingham.

“Serving as the mayor of Framingham has been the honor of my life,” Spicer said Tuesday. “I am thankful for the opportunity to have been Framingham’s very first mayor, and the first African American woman to be elected mayor in Massachusetts. I am proud of successfully transitioning a 317-year-old town into a brand new city.”


Spicer said she is leaving Framingham in a better place than when she took office, having led the city through the pandemic and having created the most diverse administration, boards and committees in the city’s history. Framingham became a city in 2018 after decades of being operated by town meetings, effectively making Spicer its first mayor.

Spicer won endorsements from U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, but was still handily defeated by Sisitsky. Before being elected mayor, Spicer had worked as a teacher, as a longtime advocate for science and technology education and as a vice president at Boston’s Museum of Science.

Sisitsky was first elected to Framingham’s former board of selectmen in 1998 and served until Framingham adopted a city form of government in 2017. He then served a single term on the new city council.

“People want us to do a better job governing and it starts right here and right now,” Sisitsky told supporters Tuesday. “We’re going to be open, accessible, transparent and most of all present working every day.”

Sisitsky had also worked as public works director in Natick for two decades, and as head of the Medford Department of Public Works.


In 2017, Spicer defeated former State Rep. John Stefanini, also a Democrat, in the city’s first mayoral election.

There were other key municipal elections around the state on Tuesday.

In Somerville, Katjana Ballantyne defeated fellow City Councilor and fellow Democrat Wilfred Mbah to succeed longtime Mayor Joe Curtatone, who opted not to seek reelection. Curtatone, also a Democrat, was first elected mayor in 2003.


Ballantyne was first elected to the Somerville City Council in 2013. She has served two terms as the council president.

In Holyoke, voters elected the city’s first Latino mayor — Joshua Garcia, a former school committee member, Democrat, and current town manager in Blandford. Garcia, of Puerto Rican descent, defeated Michael J. Sullivan, an at-large city councilor.

Garcia, who was born in Holyoke, will lead a city where more than half of all residents identify as Hispanic, according to the most recent U.S. Census.

In Everett, incumbent Mayor Carlo DeMaria eked out a win over challenger Fred Capone, a city councilor. DeMaria will serve a sixth term.

In Lawrence, interim Mayor Kendrys Vasquez was defeated by Brian DePeña, a former at-large city councilor. Vasquez took up the post in January, after former Mayor Dan Rivera stepped down to lead the state’s development finance agency.


And in Salem, Kim Driscoll will serve a 5th term as that city’s mayor.

In Boston, voters made history by electing Wu, who easily defeated fellow City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George, also a Democrat. Boston had only elected white men to lead the city until Wu’s win.

The 36-year-old, who was born and raised in Chicago and whose parent immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan, will take office Nov. 16.

The city’s previous elected mayor — Democrat Marty Walsh — stepped down earlier this year to become U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Joe Biden. Walsh was replaced on an acting basis by Kim Janey, the first Black woman to assume the office.

Walsh praised Wu on her win.

“It’s history,” Walsh told the AP on Wednesday. “We elected the first-ever nonwhite person as mayor of Boston. I talked to City Councilor Michelle Wu today to congratulate her. … It’s exciting for Boston. … She’ll be great, she’ll be successful, and I’m going to support her any way that I can.”


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