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Lydia Edwards, influential city councilor from East Boston, endorses Michelle Wu for mayor

Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards, right, endorsed fellow Councilor Michelle Wu for mayor at LoPresti Park in East Boston.
Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards, right, endorsed fellow Councilor Michelle Wu for mayor at LoPresti Park in East Boston.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

City Councilor Michelle Wu has won the endorsement of fellow Councilor Lydia Edwards, a close colleague and a powerful political ally from East Boston, a strategic neighborhood in what has become a heated race for mayor.

Edwards, who is running unopposed for a third term in office, plans to announce her endorsement at a campaign event at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at LoPresti Park in East Boston. Her district covers East Boston, Charlestown, and the North End.

City Councilor Michelle Wu has won the endorsement of fellow Councilor Lydia Edwards.
City Councilor Michelle Wu has won the endorsement of fellow Councilor Lydia Edwards.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

“Michelle Wu is the leader we need in Boston at this moment to connect our neighborhoods and move us forward towards a more fair, just and equitable city,” Edwards said in a statement provided to the Globe. “I know from partnering with her on some of our deepest challenges that she works tirelessly, shows up when our neighborhoods need her, and always does what’s right, even when it’s not what’s easy.”

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The announcement officially unites two allies who have been close since Edwards came into office in 2018, with a platform of addressing the affordable housing crisis and workers’ rights. They worked closely on environmental protection proposals, and Edwards has worked recently to build upon paid family-leave laws that Wu first spearheaded eight years ago.

They were also the lead co-sponsors of the 2018 City Council ordinance that regulated the short-term rental industry; the two councilors sought compromises from then-mayor Martin J. Walsh’s administration in behind-the-scenes meetings to see to the law’s final passage. When the platform Airbnb targeted Wu in a smear campaign to oppose the ordinance, Edwards was quick to publicly lambaste the company.

“Lydia’s a fighter, she doesn’t back down from a challenge, and has a clear vision for justice and equity — I’m so honored to stand alongside her in our push for our city,” Wu said in an interview.

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Edwards’s endorsement could send a strong message of collaboration in a race in which three of Wu’s competitors are also councilors: Andrea Campbell, Annissa Essaibi George, and Acting Mayor Kim Janey, who was serving as council president before Walsh left office. Wu and Janey were in a statistical tie for first place in a recent poll. Also running for mayor is the city’s former economic development chief, John Barros.

Last week, Janey welcomed the endorsement of the politically influential Arroyo family, including Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, helping her build inroads in Boston’s Latino community.

Edwards’s endorsement could similarly help Wu connect with a politically active Latino and immigrant community in East Boston as well as long-established families that have lived there for generations. Edwards is also popular in the traditional voting strongholds of Charlestown and the North End, which is made up of a mix of newcomers and long-term residents.

Jonathan Cohn, a political activist and observer who openly supports Wu, said in an interview that Edwards’s endorsement could be critical, coming from a district that — until now — didn’t have a favored candidate in the race. But he cautioned that endorsements are only as strong as the work that goes behind them, and said that Edwards will need to communicate her support for Wu to her own constituents.

“I think (Edwards) has managed to form relationships with people across all lines, and if someone is able to hold [those] voters across all of those lines, that’s a really useful thing,” Cohn said.

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Milton J. Valencia can be reached at milton.valencia@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.