Right out the gate, all 12 of the candidates running for mayor — gathered for the first time on one stage — launched into a fiery debate Monday evening over a range of subjects, including whether there should be a citywide vote on a proposed casino in Boston, one of the most contentious issues in the campaign.
“I felt like I needed a football helmet for this one,’’ said Councilor John Connolly, after the 90-minute free-for-all, which was televised in part on New England Cable News. “It moved at the speed of light and it felt at times like an argument at the dinner table among family.”
The debate — serious, contentious, and highly defensive — at times exposed flaws in the candidates’ demeanor or record. But it also displayed passion among the hopefuls who had previously been mostly cordial to one another.
The debate opened with a question to Connolly, asking him defend his position that only East Boston residents, and not the rest of the city, should vote on a casino plan.
“They are going to live with this casino in a way no one else in the city can,” he said. “I think the right thing to do here is have an East Boston vote.”
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