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City Councilor makes her case for State Senate seat

Boston City Councilor and State Senate hopeful Lydia Edwards. Edwards answered questions from East Boston residents regarding immigration, police reform and more at a hybrid public and virtual forum Wednesday. ILLUSTRATION BY CONOR KELLEY/ DFP STAFF

State Senate hopeful Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards answered Bostonians’ questions at a hybrid public and virtual forum for senate candidates Wednesday, Dec. 1 in East Boston.  

Edwards’ opponent for the First Suffolk and Middlesex District seat, Revere School Committee member Anthony D’Ambrosio, was scheduled to attend and answer questions but was absent at the forum. 

D’Ambrosio could not comment at the time of publishing.

Both candidates are vying for their constituents’ vote in a special election to fill a vacant seat left behind by former Sen. Joseph Boncore, who resigned Sept. 9 to become CEO of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council. 

Edwards addressed questions collected from the public before the meeting concerning hot-button topics like immigration, police reform and climate justice.

Divorcing law enforcement’s criminal investigations from the federal government’s  immigration policies are parts of Edwards’ immigration platform, she said.  

“A person’s humanity and dignity is not defined by a piece of paper,” Edwards said at the forum. 

D’Ambrosio would allocate more state funds towards English Language Learning programs and protect those seeking humanitarian asylum, according to his website.

“In supporting our immigrant communities, we craft better economic development, education, and transportation policies that benefit everyone in the Commonwealth,” the site reads.

A major goal of Edward’s, she said, is to provide alternatives to traditional policing like SOAR Boston — the Street Outreach, Advocacy and Response program that responds to gang violence, shootings and other situations with trained community members who can communicate in individuals’ native languages, she said, in addition to having “an accountable, transparent, good police department.” 

When asked about her plans for improving environmental conditions, Edwards mentioned the importance of the previously passed Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance. 

Legislation sponsored by Edwards and signed into law by Mayor Michelle Wu also supported Boston’s green efforts, divesting 65 million dollars away from fossil fuels, private industries and tobacco. 

Logan International Airport — located in East Boston — is a major source of pollution and noise. D’Ambrosio supports holding the airport accountable to state pollution standards and enacting penalties on violators, according to his campaign website.

“Children in our district who live close to the airport or Wheelabrator [electricity plant] are more likely to suffer from asthma and other respiratory conditions than children living elsewhere,” the website states.

Edwards also committed to ensuring Bostonians’ equitable access to educational resources, referring to it as one of the “recurring themes” of concern she’s seen as a city councilor.

She explained how her own family depended heavily on reliable and affordable childcare both within and beyond typical school hours. 

“I am a product of public schools,” she said. “I deeply believe that but for the incredible teachers I had and the fact that the education was free and close to my home, if I didn’t have those opportunities, I would not be here today.”

Parents attempting to support their family while holding a full-time job and potentially homeschooling their child or guiding them through remote school as a result of COVID-19 restrictions need to be better supported, Edwards said. 

Universal childcare and pre-kindergarten in Massachusetts are “fundamental” to D’Ambrosio’s plan for achieving gender equity and recovering the economy from negative COVID-19 effects, according to his campaign website.

“No one should ever have to choose between caring for their child and putting food on the table,” the site reads.

Boston resident Arshan Mizani said he perceived the city’s most pressing concerns include gentrification and public transportation.

D’Ambrosio is a strong promoter of “regular and reliable service” by expanding T accessibility, according to his campaign website. 

Mizani also pointed out discriminatory structures against unhoused individuals, the expensive cost of transit and underfunded public schools as issues state senators should address.  

“I was taking the T yesterday, and there’s these benches that have the guards to make sure [unhoused people] can’t sleep there,” Mizani said. “Instead, we could just have better housing for them.” 

Concerning unhoused individuals in Boston, Edwards said at the forum emphasized the importance of housing that supports people’s physical and mental wellness. 

 “I will show up, I will meet you where you are, try in as many languages as possible and I will be held accountable by you,” Edwards said.

Voting for the special primary election is Dec. 14, while the general election will be held Jan. 11, 2022.

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