Former health care executive Bill Walczak on Tuesday became the first mayoral candidate to aggressively oppose a casino at Suffolk Downs, raising moral and economic objections to relying on gambling as an engine for growth.
In a letter to the state gambling commission, Walczak described a casino as an economic drain that would stifle long-term growth and devastate working-class East Boston, while bringing mainly low-paying jobs.
“Boston is better than a casino,” Walczak said in an interview as he recounted the gambling addictions of his mother and aunt. “There’s better ways of building jobs. There’s better ways of building up the city.”
In a crowded race largely devoid of polarizing issues, casino gambling has begun to emerge as a fault line separating mayoral candidates. Much of the debate has revolved around whether a vote on casinos should be limited to East Boston or opened to the entire city.
With a dozen candidates battling to succeed Mayor Thomas M. Menino, candidates need issues that will distinguish them from one another.
Walczak argues that as mayor he would have the power under the state gaming law to reopen a casino agreement if a pact is signed in the waning months of Menino’s administration.
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