BOSTON (CBS) — Democratic Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone joined Jon Keller to discuss current events and politics on Sunday.
Keller mentioned that former Newton Mayor Setti Warren dropped out of the Democratic primary for Governor’s race this week. He cited his inability to raise funds.
Curtatone responded saying, “In terms of what it means for the Democratic party, I think we still have some great candidates out there. Jay Gonzalez, former Secretary of Administration of Finance, Bob Massie, Somerville resident who I am supporting. Both [are] progressive, strong progressive candidates and leaders. It’s no easy task though, to run for governor.”
The mayor, who has been in office since 2004, added that while money is essential to running a campaign, you also need a strong grassroots organization.
One thing Curtatone had staunchly opposed was casino legalization. “My opposition to gaming had to do with I don’t believe you build communities with casinos. Casinos buy into the law of economic extraction, taking money off of Main Street to put it on the prospects of Easy Street.”
With a casino underway in Everett, it is clear Curtatone lost that battle, but he said he has done his best to minimize the impacts the casino will have on his city.
“Am I concerned as a taxpayer and a resident of Massachusetts, of how this is unfolding? Of course, I am. I think most people are. Massachusetts is putting a lot on the table, right? [Letting it] all ride on the success of gaming. I hope I’m wrong on what I feel would be the negative impacts of gaming,” said Curtatone.
Somerville already has multiple medicinal marijuana dispensaries and recreational pot shops will also come to the city once it is legal.
Curtatone is passionate about both. “I was a criminal defense attorney for a decade, and the war on drugs, as we can all agree, does not work,” he said.
The city has approved for up to six recreational dispensaries. “We are going through a study process, the rules and regulations allows for us to conduct a study like we did with medical marijuana. We’re engaged in the community, we’re proposing rules and regulations which we will do in May,” said Curtatone.
He also hopes the dispensaries align with the city’s planning efforts.
In response to a protest at the Somerville City Hall, where protesters said not enough was being done to create affordable housing and that the city was anti-union, Curtatone said, “I think we all know that given recent federal investigations that we cannot require private-sector people legally to hire union labor.”
He also defended his administration’s efforts on affordable housing, saying it has done more for the cause than any other previous administration.
“We have the strongest rules for inclusionary parts of our zoning to create affordable housing in Somerville. We have some of the strongest rules overall for affordable housing and we’ve created more affordable housing units in the last several years than any time in the city’s history.”
Curtatone also said he was co-chairing a coalition with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to “create production goals and affordable housing goals for the Metro-region…the first report will come out this June.”