POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

Another Election Day, but Whom to Vote For?

by David Trumbull

June 2, 2006

"Pride goeth before a fall" and I fear this may sound just a bit too self-congratulatory, but I'll say it nevertheless: thank goodness (and Pam Donnaruma and all her crew) for the Post-Gazette! If you live in East Boston, the North End, Charlestown, or Beacon Hill you know that on Tuesday, June 13th, we'll elect a new City Councillor. You certainly don't know this from the major daily newspapers or Boston radio and television stations, which have ignored the contest. Aside from the campaign literature of the candidates, my main source of information has been my fellow Post-Gazette columnists who have taken the time to learn about the candidates and share that information with us.

A few days after his impressive 53 percent victory in the preliminary election I sat down for a cup of coffee and conversation with Salvatore LaMattina. Sal's not taking anything for granted. His opponent J. Ryan is experienced and energetic. Ryan enjoys wide support in Charlestown, a neighborhood that has, with some justification, felt overlooked in a district where the North End and Eastie turn out the largest number of voters. Furthermore, the people who turn out to vote in a preliminary election tend to be either those who have a strong affinity for a candidate or those who never miss an election. More voters, from more varied backgrounds, will turn out for the final election, and Sal knows that he will have to work for every vote on June 13th.

Only a small part of my Beacon Hill neighborhood is in District One. My precinct turned out the second lowest number of voters in the preliminary election. We're easily overlooked in the scramble toward more voter-rich neighborhoods. One gauge of the tightness of this race is the attention that both LaMattina and Ryan are giving to our little neighborhood's biggest issue, the transformation of Suffolk University from its traditional "commuter school" nature into a sprawling residential campus that is changing the streetscape the demographics of central Boston.

I found Sal to be extremely knowledgeable about issues in all the neighborhoods. He clearly had given much thought to the issue college dormitories in residential neighborhoods and was prepared to work with the mayors office and the schools on solutions to the dire need for more student housing while addressing permanent residents' concerns about our quality of life in the city.

His experience helping mitigate the disruption due to the big dig project will be of tremendous value to residents and businesses in the North End. And I was very pleased to hear him express support for an historic East Boston institution, and major employer, Suffolk Downs. Having a local track with live racing is, along with other sporting and cultural venues in the city, part of what makes Boston a great city to live in as well as a destination for millions of visitors.

The election is just a bit more than a week away. Learn about both candidates. And vote!