Who will take Lydia Edwards’ Boston City Council seat?

The District 1 councilor declared victory in a state Senate race. Who will succeed her on the council?

Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards speaks to campaign staff and volunteers at an election watch party on Dec. 14. Erin Clark/Globe Staff

Lydia Edwards, the Boston city councilor for District 1, secured a seat in the state Senate for the 1st Suffolk and Middlesex District on Tuesday in an uncontested, special election.

“I am grateful to the people of Boston, Cambridge, Revere and Winthrop for sending me to Beacon Hill to fight for our communities,” the senator-elect said in a statement after declaring victory. “I know how to fight for what you believe in, build a movement and win, and I am looking forward to continuing the work in the State House.”

So with Edwards soon off to Beacon Hill, what will become of her council seat?


Tuesday’s win comes after Edwards was re-elected to the council in November. Her departure from the city’s governing body will tee-up a special election for a successor to serve out the rest of her, nearly full, term.

Under the city charter, officials must hold a preliminary election on a Tuesday within 62 to 76 days after a City Council election order is approved. The general election would then follow, 28 days later.

It’s unclear when exactly Edwards will start her new gig.

When she does though, she will be the only Black member of the state Senate and the first woman and person of color to represent her district.

In the meantime, here’s what we know about what’s next for her current seat:

Who’s running?

Residents can expect the answer to that question to change in the coming days and weeks.

But so far, there are a few candidates expected to run, and many more who are apparently weighing a run for the council seat, which represents the North End, Charlestown, and East Boston.

The Boston Globe reported late last month that at least two individuals have announced they are running for the spot:

  • Tania Del Rio, the executive director of the YWCA Cambridge, a nonprofit that operates 103 housing units for low-income women and 10 emergency shelter units for families, has jumped in the race.

    Del Rio, 36, was born in Mexico and came to Massachusetts in 2014 for graduate school. In 2017, she moved to East Boston where she lives with her husband and two children, according to the Globe.

    Del Rio planned to step down from her job this month to focus on the campaign.

    She previously worked as director for the Boston Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement.

    “I know how to navigate big, complex systems,” she told the Globe.
  • East Boston resident Gabriela “Gigi” Coletta, who previously served as a campaign manager and chief of staff for Edwards, has also confirmed to the newspaper she is running for the seat.

    Coletta, 29, is currently the external relations manager at the New England Aquarium. She said she “will be the bold and effective advocate this district deserves.”

    “District One faces unique challenges and this moment requires an experienced leader to tackle our most urgent issues,” Coletta said in a statement to the Globe. “We are dealing with a housing affordability and displacement crisis inequities in our public education system, and a significant threat to our waterfront communities due to sea-level rise and climate change.”

Who is thinking about running?

  • Jay O’Brien, a 35-year-old Charlestown resident and vice chair of the Ward 2 Democrats, may join the race.

    O’Brien, who has a campaign committee registered with the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance, told the Globe he is “seriously considering” a run.
  • Elaine Donovan, 55, a community advocate and a past campaign volunteer for Edwards in Charlestown, is also thinking it over, according to the newspaper.

    “This might just be something I could and should do,” Donovan said.
  • Jason Ruggiero, a 32-year-old East Boston resident and community engagement manager for the Boston Planning & Development Agency, was talking over the idea of a campaign with friends and family late last month, the Globe reported.
  • Maria Lanza, 26, who is a former neighborhood liaison in the Office of Neighborhood Services for the North End, is considering running as she waits to see how the field of candidates develops, according to the outlet.

    “I’m keeping my options open,” Lanza said.
  • Andrés Del Castillo, 31, co-director of the advocacy group Right to the City Boston, told the Globe he is considering entering the race and that he hoped to have “more news” early this year.

    “For generations, residents and organizations have been building toward a vision of Boston that centers a true people’s agenda,” Del Castillo said in a statement. “We’re finally starting to see some of the fruits of this labor, but now more than ever, we have to be true to the community process that got us here.”

Who is not running?

A few people rumored to be candidates have also cleared the air and said they do not plan to seek Edwards’ seat, according to the Globe:

  • Kathryn Burton, a North End resident and former chief of staff to former Mayor Marty Wash, confirmed to the newspaper she will not be running.

    “It’s incredibly flattering that people have put my name forward and believe I could contribute to the city I love as an elected official,” she said. “I look forward to continuing my service, in whatever form that takes, at another time.”
  • Stephen Passacantilli, who mounted an unsuccessful bid for the seat in 2017, told the Globe he considered the possibility of trying again, but decided against it. Instead, he preferred to “leave it up to the young talent in the district,” he said.

    “I don’t think it’s my time anymore,” he said.


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