Massachusetts sees more women of color take seats in politics


City councilor Lydia Edwards won the race for the special Democratic primary for state Senate. Photo courtesy Avery Bleichfeld.

Jennifer Suryadjaja, city editor

After Mayor Michelle Wu took office last month, Boston has seen more women and minority leaders emerge in city politics. 

In the race for the special Democratic primary for state Senate, Lydia Edwards won Tuesday, Dec. 14 by 20 percentage points when her opponent Anthony D’Ambrosio — a Revere School Committee member — conceded after polls closed. The District 1 city councilor will represent the First Suffolk and Middlesex District, which covers East Boston, Revere, Winthrop, downtown Boston and Cambridge, if elected in January. 

Edwards has the chance to fill the open position after state Sen. Joe Boncore stepped down to take another role as CEO of MassBio, a nonprofit that supports biotechnology companies. If elected as expected, Edwards will be the only Black member in the state senate for at least one year.

Her platform focuses on affordable housing, accessible public transportation, as well as climate and environmental justice, among other issues. 

Rep. Ayanna Pressley tweeted her support for Edwards’ victory this week: “Organized power is realized power. Congratulations to [Edwards] on making history once again & to the organizers & volunteers who made this victory possible. Proud of you & look forward to partnering with you on housing justice, workers’ rights & so much more.”

Last previous week, Northeastern University alum Rachael Rollins was confirmed as the U.S. District Attorney for Massachusetts. Vice President Kamala Harris broke the Senate tie during the confirmation vote. Rollins is the first Black woman to hold the title.

Rollins, who was previously Suffolk County’s District Attorney, gained support from fellow Democrats such as President Joe Biden and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey. Leaders have expressed their support for her win on social media, such as Markey’s tweet that said, “She will bring a renewed energy and innovative vision to this office.”

Her platform focuses on criminal justice reform, support for crime victims and progressive law enforcement systems. Upon her confirmation, Rollins received criticism from several Republican senators, including Sens. Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton. She has also received multiple racially-motivated death threat messages.

In an interview with GBH host Jim Braude, Rollins addressed the harassment she has faced during the confirmation process.

“A lot of people don’t recognize as women and as women of color and particularly as a Black woman, the level of racist, hateful death threats that we receive,” Rollins said.