Making her second run for the district representing Revere, Winthrop, and parts of Cambridge and Boston, the Boston City Councilor is, by a long shot, the more experienced and compelling candidate.
By The Editorial Board The Boston Globe Updated December 8, 2021, 2:02 p.m.
In less than a week, voters in Revere, Winthrop, and parts of Cambridge and Boston, including East Boston, Beacon Hill, and the North End, will go to the polls in an off-cycle special primary to elect a state senator — again.
Indeed, this marks the third consecutive time this particular seat will be filled via a special election after the district’s senator quit midterm to take another job. Not only did those politicians bail on their constituents, but they also did so in a way that virtually guarantees a smaller and better-connected field, a more rushed campaign, and a lower turnout.
This time, two candidates are facing off in Tuesday’s Democratic special election — Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards and Revere School Committee member Anthony D’Ambrosio. Because there are no independent or Republican hopefuls, the winner of next week’s special will effectively become the new senator.
Edwards is, by a long shot, the more experienced and compelling candidate. She has a keen understanding of the issues that affect the district and has noteworthy achievements to back her Beacon Hill bid. She would be the first Black woman to represent the district and would become the only Black representative in the state Senate. The Globe wholeheartedly endorses her candidacy.
Joe Boncore, who was elected to the seat in the spring of 2016 after winning a seven-way Democratic primary, resigned in September to become the CEO of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council. Edwards ran in 2016, too, coming in fourth in the special primary. After that loss, she went on to win the Boston City Council’s District 1 seat in 2017, representing East Boston, Charlestown, and the North End.
In a meeting with the Globe editorial board, Edwards spoke of her broader policy vision and how she’d have a positive impact in the region if elected to the state Senate. “A lot of the top issues that impact my district, if not the city of Boston, are regional,” Edwards said. “The major issues that I feel are facing our district, and our state, are regional concerns, and there is no one city that can take care of them — whether that’s the opioid crisis, whether it’s climate change, whether it’s transportation . . . they require regional approaches.”
That is something that being in the Senate would allow Edwards to do. For instance, she said, “This district is a transportation hub, and Massport is located in this district, so to be the state senator [means] to be able to confront and push back on Massport and its impact over the cities in there. That is something that no one mayor can do, but a senator . . . gets to sit at the table with Massport at a different level.”
With two law degrees, Edwards has outstanding credentials, as well as the experience that puts her in a far better position than her opponent to hit the ground running on day one in the state Senate. As a Boston city councilor, she has left a mark. Notably, Edwards recently pushed to get the city’s charter changed to open up the $3.7 billion municipal budgeting process for a more assertive participation from the public and the City Council. In a binding referendum, Bostonians bought Edwards’s pitch and approved the change by a significant margin. Edwards was also heavily involved in negotiating the agreement to redevelop Suffolk Downs, which could be a major asset to the region.
Her opponent, by comparison, has served a single term as a member of the Revere School Committee. D’Ambrosio has earned the support of many Revere politicians, including mayor Brian Arrigo. But he lacks the breadth of experience and the ability to articulate a clear policy agenda relevant to the seat that Edwards offers.
Unfortunately, voters in the First Suffolk and Middlesex District cannot escape the not-so-special aspect of Tuesday’s primary. As legislators, lawmakers can reduce the number of special elections in two ways: first, through electoral reforms around midterm vacancies, and second, by having enough respect for constituents to finish out the terms to which they are elected. Edwards is clearly the better candidate this year — and, hopefully, one who won’t jilt the district in the same way her predecessors have.