Conley Favors Citywide Vote for Suffolk Downs Casino

Suffolk County District Attorney and Mayoral Candidate Dan Conley’s support of a citywide vote versus a ward-only vote regarding Suffolk Downs’ proposed resort-style casino could have some political repercussions here in East Boston.

Conley’s told the Boston Globe “We’re one city; we have one shared future. This referendum must be citywide and the results must be read to reflect our shared stake in the outcome of this important vote.”

Conley’s position could dramatically shift support he’s trying to cultivate here in the neighborhood.

Already Conley had gained political backing early on from Representative Carlo Basile, a longtime supporter of the District Attorney.

However, Conley’s position is at odds with Basile’s own position on a casino vote.

“I strongly support an East Boston-only vote,” said Basile in a statement. “I have been working hard on the issue and doing everything in my power to make sure that happens. I don’t think residents in Jamaica Plain or Allston-Brighton should have a say in what will impact us the most.”

Perhaps now Basile will have to distance himself from the Conley’s campaign because Eastie’s three elected officials have been solid in their support of an Eastie-only vote.

Conley’s move may have been a calculated strategy to cultivate a coveted endorsement from the Boston Globe editorial staff that has long supported a citywide referendum vote on the casino issue.

Also Conley may have been trying to outflank At-Large City Councilor Felix Arroyo who is a supporter of an Eastie only vote. Arroyo has been catching some heat among progressive liberals here for hiring strategist Doug Rubin to his campaign. Rubin has been a strategist for Suffolk Downs in helping the racetrack gain one of three casino licenses in the state.

However, the move to outflank Arroyo here misses the mark because people on both sides of the casino argument, whether for or against, support an Eastie-only vote. Furthermore, a referendum would most likely come months before the Mayoral Primary and would be a non-issue during the election. Some of Conley’s Eastie supporters here are confused why the D.A. would want to take a position either way and wear that position around his neck during the city election.

Senator Anthony Petruccelli, who crafted the language in the casino bill for an Eastie-only is a supporter of City Councilor Rob Consalvo’s bid for mayor. Consalvo has said he supports an Eastie-only vote because it would not be fair if in the end the city voted ‘yes’ on a casino and the residents of Eastie said ‘no’ but would then have to bear the brunt of the impacts.

For his part, Petruccelli said, “I am disappointed that The District Attorney feels it is appropriate for the people of West Roxbury to decide the fate of a development project in our neighborhood over the voices of the people of East Boston.  Through the efforts of our City Councilor Sal LaMattina and my preferred candidate for mayor, City Councilor Rob Consalvo, I am confident that the majority of the members of the Boston City Council will support the neighborhood position of an East Boston only vote.”

At-Large City Councilor John Connolly, who is also running for mayor and has a strong base of support in Eastie, has been consistent in his support of a ward-only vote in Eastie.

“Whether you are for or against a casino the impacts disproportionately fall on East Boston and that means East Boston voters should decide,” he said.

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