By John Lynds
It was unwise to count out City Councilor-elect Lydia Edwards when she lost her bid for State Senate two years ago. In that race she won East Boston, and it was the shape of things to come for this bright young East Boston woman.
In a political landscape dominated by Italian-American men, with the exception of former City Councilor Diane Modica, since the 1950s.
When she won the District 1 City Council seat in November Edwards became the first woman of color to ever hold the seat since its inception in 1983.
It was historic for many reasons. Edwards not only represents the new crop of leaders emerging from the ever changing demographic of the community but the changing politics in Boston as a whole.
Running an inclusive campaign that vowed to give voice to the disenfranchised being pushed out of Boston neighborhoods due to soaring rents and home prices, Edwards won over not only the new generation of residents but the old guard being marginalized by high end development.
For this Lydia Edwards is the 2017 East Boston Times Woman of the Year.
In every way Edwards’s campaign throughout the summer was professional, on point and reached out to many in Eastie who felt government just wasn’t working for them anymore.
Living in one of the hottest real estate markets in Boston, Edwards had seen first hand those who are being pushed out by rent increases, no-fault evictions and development aimed at attracting not neighborhood families but outsiders who could afford nearly a million dollars for luxury condos.
As head of Mayor Martin Walsh’s Office of Housing Stability Edwards became a champion not only for Eastie’s Latino population who are finding it increasingly more difficult to afford to live and raise their families in the neighborhood but also longtime residents settling into retirement but without the income to stay in the place they’ve called home for decades.
Her work for the city and her campaign to expand her vision for smart development, increase in workforce housing and more compassion for residents being displaced by gentrification made her a favorite among Eastie voters.
In September’s preliminary and general elections Edwards carried Eastie, as she did during the senate race, but also won Charlestown.
These extraordinary wins not only showed how far District 1 has come, but also put the district in the hands of a very capable resident with a fresh new vision of how the district should be led.
“I’m bringing all of you with me to City Hall,” Edwards said during the campaign. It was a promise she has repeated time and again and a mantra that stuck in the minds of voters.
People here want a voice, want their concerns heard and considered, want to be able to continue living in the neighborhood they love.
Edwards’s work in the past and her hope for the future has convinced the majority of residents here that she will not only be a passionate City Councilor but a compassionate one as well.