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Lydia Edwards wins in District 1

Karen Morales | 11/8/2017, 10:30 a.m.
Lydia Edwards won the District 1 City Councilor seat, besting Stephen Passacantilli by 730 votes. Edwards garnered 52.8 percent of ...
Lydia Edwards Banner photo

Lydia Edwards won the District 1 City Councilor seat, besting Stephen Passacantilli by 730 votes. Edwards garnered 52.8 percent of the total votes in the district, which includes East Boston, Charlestown and the North End and has been represented by Italian Americans since it was created in 1982.

At the Edwards campaign victory party Tuesday night, family, friends and supporters spilled out of the small banquet room at Kelley Square Pub. Nervous excitement filled the air as people regularly checked their phones and refreshed their newsfeeds for any sign of election results. After a supporter shouted “She won!” Edwards walked into the room grinning and the crowd erupted into celebratory cheers.

"Yes we did. yes we did,” Edwards’ voice rang out among the commotion.

“This is what a grassroots campaign looks like,” she said, as she stood on a banquet table with a microphone, addressing the crowd.

As of that night, the campaign had knocked on 73,000 doors, worked with 500 volunteers, and made almost 200,000 cold calls. “This was a campaign of many hands, many colors, many languages,” said Edwards.

“Today is the beginning of the relationship we have together. We have work to do. Real work, real issues, real problems, real people we need to love, care, and work with,” she told her supporters. “That’s the campaign I ran on, and that's the kind of city councilor I intend to be.”

By her side, was her twin sister Erika, and her mother Bridget, who flew in from North Carolina.

Among the people she thanked, Edwards called out Gabriela Coletta, her campaign manager, who she described as a “fourth generation Italian girl from Eastie who helped make history,” and “her ride or die person.”

“We went from launching our canvassers at the cafeteria at the Wholefoods in Charlestown to winning Charlestown . Twice,” said Coletta.

Dan Ertis, field organizer for the Edwards campaign said “There are really big things happening in this district, and she’s what the district needs in terms of solving housing issues.”

Her campaign prioritized accessible home ownership, improving transit options, and combating underfunding of public education through innovative solutions.

Optimism for Edwards’ ability to mitigate rising housing costs and maintain affordability for residents could be heard among many voters supporting her.

Darnell Johnson, a Roxbury resident who runs the affordable housing advocacy group, Right to the City, said he had met Edwards when she was deputy director of housing stability in City Hall and knew she would enact change not only in District 1 but the rest of the city.

“I feel energized and ready for change to happen,” he said.

“I woke up today feeling like it was a holiday,” said Abby Cutrumbes, a graduate fellow at political consulting group, Blue Lab, which Edwards contracted with to provide campaign services. Since last July, Cutrumbes helped canvass and make calls for the campaign.

Right before the election results were announced, Cutrumbes felt hopeful but uncertain because “the preliminary was so close.”

Clara Sandrin, graduate fellow at Blue Lab, also looking back at the whirlwind of the campaign, recalls how everyone who worked on the campaign felt after the preliminary race. “There was a moment of ‘Oh my god, this could really happen,’” she said.

Edwards said that when she first partnered with Coletta to run the campaign, they started off with nothing.

“Just me and her. No office. No paper. No plan,” she said. “But we were going to do it.”

“This was a collective win,” said Coletta after the results were announced. “This campaign is representative of what’s happening in this neighborhood.”