Connolly Picks up LaMattina Backing

East Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina endorses John Connolly for Mayor of Boston at a press conference in Charlestown last week.

East Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina endorses John Connolly
for Mayor of Boston at a press conference in Charlestown last

Mayoral Candidate John Connolly, who is still leading the race according to the last Suffolk University-Boston Herald poll here in East Boston and citywide, picked up a key endorsements last week.

Connolly received the endorsements of City Councilor Sal LaMattina.

LaMattina, who stayed out of the Primary Election decided last week to throw his support behind Connolly at a press conference outside the Warren Prescott School in Charlestown.

LaMattina, who represents Eastie, the North End and Charlestown and East Boston, serves on the Council’s Committee on Education, which Connolly chairs.

“I have worked with John on the Committee on Education and I have seen the way he listens to parents and students and his deep understanding of our schools and I have no doubt that if he is elected he will transform our schools so that every child can attend a high quality school,” said LaMattina.

Connolly recently worked with LaMattina to secure funding to expand the Warren Prescott School by purchasing the shuttered Holden School, which is across the street.

“It means so much to me to have the support of Councilor LaMattina who serves on the education committees with me and who has worked tirelessly for students and parents,” said Connolly.  “He has been a friend and ally in the fight for our children and I look forward to working with him now and as mayor.”

LaMattina joins Eastie State Representative Carlo Basile in endorsing Connolly.

“I’m excited that Councilor LaMattina has joined the Connolly team,” said Basile. “Like me, LaMattina puts education as a top priority to move Boston into the future. I look forward to working with the Councilor to get John’s (Connolly) message out to East Boston voters and voters citywide.”

amo. “Traffic is not nearly as bad as people anticipated because it is spread out over 24 hours. No one is coming and going from the casino at the exact same time.”

Bensalem receives $10 million a year from the casino or 2% of casino profits, which ever is the greater amount. The money is used for additional police, giving property tax breaks for homeowners and other programs.
DiGirolamo, who grew up in Bensalem and once worked as a farmer when the working class town was predominately Polish, Italian, Irish and African American. Now there is an influx of people from India, Asia and young professionals have been flocking to Bensalem to escape the hustle and bustle of Philly.
“It’s a very diverse and safe town and we pride ourselves on that,” said DiGirolamo.
Vaughn Derassauyan grew up in Bensalem and is now a realtor there. He said three miles from the casino homes are selling for $399,000, others for $629,000 and some homes that border Philly are upwards of $800,000.
“Like any community there are some undesirable places to live, places that haven’t been fixed up over the years but that is certainly not the function of the casino,” said Derassauyan. “There’s a stretch of old motels and residential areas that were always like that when I was growing up, The area is pretty blue collar with average income and the homes that are of lower value are homes that have not been updated in years.”
Derassauyan said homes that have added all the amenities you’d find in newly renovated homes or condos here in Eastie fetch a better price.
“Those homes that have had some work put into them have seen a spike in values,” he said. “Bensalem, like many communities across the U.S. suffered from the economic downturn and real estate crash in 2008 but I think we’ve rebounded more quickly. The drop in home values then had nothing to do with a casino because we’ve already had the structure of a thriving community before the crash. I think a Walmart would have probably been more damaging to the home values and economy here.”
Derassauyan said the main drag in Bensalem that leads to the casino is a thriving commercial area.
“My wife and I were driving through the other night and commented how busy all the restaurants were,” he said.
But when in Bensalem Derassauyan goes to one place, Luca’s Pizza, an old neighborhood establishment serving the pizza he grew up on.
There we talked with Lucky (last name not provided) who runs the pizza joint three miles from Parx Casino—the same distance Santarpio’s is to Suffolk Downs.
“We have seen no change in business,” said Lucky in broken English. “I still have all our old customers that come in. The casino didn’t hurt our business at all. We are still very popular.”
For a more upscale dining experience Bensalem residents flock to La Cena on Gallow Road just outside the entrance of the casino. The 20-year-old restaurant is Zagat rated and the go to place for a top quality Italian meal.
Mike Elser is the manager there and while the casino hasn’t brought a ton of business it hasn’t hurt La Cena.
“Like any restaurant we have our very busy days and our slow days,” said Elser. “I wouldn’t say we get more business from the casino but we certainly haven’t seen any decline since it opened.”
Elser, who was born and raised in Bensalem, said he hasn’t noticed any negative impacts the casino has caused in the town.  “It’s business as usual,” he said. “A lot of people in the northern part of Philly come to the casino here rather than the one in Philly because there’s less traffic and probably easier to get to. As for the negative impacts I haven’t seen any of it.”

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