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Lydia Edwards eyes run for state Senate seat

Lydia Edwards.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards has her sights set on Beacon Hill.

Edwards said she will formally announce Thursday that she will run for the state Senate seat likely to be vacated soon by Joseph Boncore. Edwards lost to Boncore in a race for the seat in 2016 before being elected to the City Council a year later. If elected, the Democrat would become the only Black member of the state Senate.

The announcement comes with caveats: Boncore is expected to resign to become CEO of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, a major industry lobbying group. But Boncore has not accepted that post yet, nor has he formally announced that he is leaving the state Senate. The Winthrop Democrat has acknowledged that he is a finalist for the post, and has made clear that he will accept it. Edwards is not expected to run if Boncore ends up staying in the Senate. Boncore didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday evening.

Should Boncore resign, the Senate would set a date for a special election later this year. Edwards, of East Boston, would not have to leave her City Council seat — or give up her place on the ballot this fall, as she is seeking reelection — to run for the Senate. Including Boncore, the last three occupants of the seat were all elected in special elections.


Should Boncore depart, Edwards — whose council district includes East Boston, Charlestown, and the North End — would enter a field that is also likely to include state Representative Adrian Madaro of East Boston and Anthony D’Ambrosio of Revere.

Edwards, 40, has been a powerhouse for the City Council, particularly on housing and development issues. She sponsored legislation that amended the city’s zoning code to require that fair housing and equity be considered as part of the approval process for large development projects.


Edwards has also spearheaded a ballot question that would give the City Council far greater authority over the annual city budget. That measure will go before voters in November.

Edwards said she plans to seek the seat because the Legislature has greater authority on the housing issues she has been committed to.

In an interview, Edwards noted that she has had her eye on this seat since she was a legal services attorney who often felt stymied by laws that didn’t do enough to protect her clients.

“Much of my advocacy got stopped by a lack of good laws,” she said. “I’ve continued to write laws that advocate for poor people and housing policy, and much of that work ends up at the State House. I want to be able to do more for more people.”

In the mayoral election, Edwards has been a strong supporter of fellow City Councilor Michelle Wu.

The Senate district currently includes Winthrop, Revere, Cambridgeport, the North End and waterfront, Beacon Hill, Chinatown, Bay Village, the Leather District, and part of the South End and the Back Bay. But it will change during this year’s redistricting process with new lines in place for the 2022 election.

Adrian Walker is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at adrian.walker@globe.com. Follow him @Adrian_Walker.