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Edwards is victor in Senate special election

Is unopposed in general for Suffolk Middlesex District

Avery Bleichfeld
Edwards is victor in Senate special election
Edwards celebrates her victory in the special election primary as she enters Spinelli's in East Boston. AVERY BLEICHFELD PHOTO

When City Councilor Lydia Edwards entered Spinelli’s in East Boston, where she held her election night party, it was with tears of joy on her face and her campaign team in tow to announce victory in the Dec. 14 special primary election for the vacant First Suffolk and Middlesex seat in the state Senate.

“We did this,” Edwards told supporters. “Staying focused on the issues, staying positive, talking to people where they are in all the beautiful languages that they speak, we did this.”

The special election was scheduled following the departure of Joseph Boncore, who resigned the Senate seat to take over as CEO of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council. Edwards faced off against Anthony D’Ambrosio, a member of the Revere School Committee, defeating him with just under 60% of the vote, according to unofficial results.

A general election is scheduled for Jan. 11, but with no Republican on Tuesday’s primary ballot, Edwards is expected to win the seat. If she does, she will be the only Black member of the Massachusetts Senate.

In her victory speech, Edwards thanked her supporters and their “amazing amount of energy and positive focus.”

“I mean, we had crews every Friday night doing thousands of postcards, we had people on the doors,” Edwards said. “I can’t even try to mention the amount of people in labor. This is your victory. Every labor organization, they brought the people out, they stayed focused. This is your victory.”

Edwards, who was not born in the neighborhood, also thanked East Boston, calling herself, “Eastie-adopted.”

“I am part of this community; this is my family, my home,” Edwards said. “East Boston put me on the map in 2016 when people asked, ‘Who is that girl? Who is she?’ East Boston is why I’m the city councilor. East Boston is also why, today, I am the state senator for the First Suffolk and Middlesex.”

Lydia Edwards during Election Day in the North End. PHOTO: AVERY BLEICHFELD

In the First Suffolk and Middlesex district — which includes East Boston and much of downtown, as well as Revere, Winthrop and portions of Cambridge — Edwards took a majority of votes in all the municipalities except Revere, which is home to her opponent D’Ambrosio.

Edwards pulled in 8,177 votes, compared to D’Ambrosio’s 5,464, according to unofficial results released by the municipalities. In Boston, she won nearly 78% of the vote, with 4,740 ballots.

Low voter turnout was expected for the special election, according to reporting from The Boston Globe. The four municipalities that fall within the senate district logged about 13,600 ballots. According to the most recent census, there are about 124,000 residents over the age of 18 in the district — only some portion of them are registered voters; voter registration statistics are logged by the Secretary of the Commonwealth by county, not senate district.

Kim Garofalo, a North End voter, said in elections like this one, with likely lower turnout, every vote counts.

“People got to realize that they’ve got to come out and vote or don’t complain,” Garofalo said. “And, if it’s down to the wire like that, votes are real important.”

Another North End voter, Julia Sklar, said just being part of the electorate was one of the driving factors that brought her to the polls.

“I just think it’s important to vote whenever there’s an election, and I know this one hasn’t gotten so much publicity because it’s at a strange time,” Sklar said. “I don’t expect there to be high voter turnout, so I didn’t want to be one of those people.”

Ursula Beattie, who voted at the Nazzaro Community Center in the North End said that beyond showing up, voters should be informed about who their choosing.

“Make sure you are voting and reading about people, not just voting because you recognize a name,” Beattie said. “I’m of the opinion that it doesn’t matter who you vote for as long as you’re voting based on your beliefs.”

But some voters at the community center declined to be interviewed, saying that they didn’t feel like they had done enough research to voice their opinions.

One said, as she was walking in, that she had not decided who she was voting for and did not have any major issues driving her.

Another said she planned to vote for Edwards because she had received a lot of mailers but didn’t know much about either candidate outside of the one-pagers she got in the mail.

With Edwards’ path to the Senate open, her supporters are looking to her to bring change on issues such as environmental and housing justice.

In a Tweet congratulating Edwards, Senator Ed Markey, who endorsed Edwards in the race, called her a visionary who would lead on climate and environmental justice.

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley said in a Tweet that Edwards was “making history once again” and that she is looking forward to partnering with Edwards on housing justice and workers’ rights.

At her victory party, Edwards said there is a lot of work to do. She also said that her speech was going to focus on the positives.

“That’s how we’re going to get things done, staying positive, knowing that we can do impossible things, knowing what we can do when we bring people together,” Edwards said. “Whether we agree or disagree, we ultimately have to stick together. This is our future, whether you like it or not. We are all connected, and we are all going to have to get through this together.”