Up for Grabs: After Edwards Wins the Special Election for State Senate; A Field of Candidates Begins to Emerge for District Councilor

District 1 City Councilor Lydia Edward’s impressive victory over Revere’s Anthony D’Ambrosio last week for the First Suffolk & Middlesex State Senate seat will spark a Special Eelection for her district council seat after the formality of a January 11 General Election. With no Republican on the January 11 ballot Edwards will be heading from City Hall to Beacon Hill and her council seat, which includes Charlestown, the North End and East Boston, will be up for grabs.

Already, the city’s director of the Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement Tania Del Rio has announced her intentions to run for the seat. Del Rio, of East Boston, said she was ‘all in’ and has already launched an online fundraising effort for her campaign. Before being appointed to the Office of Women’s Advancement by former Mayor Martin Walsh, Del Rio served as the City of Boston’s Diversity Outreach Officer, where her work is focused on helping the City of Boston shape a workforce that is reflective of its population, and promoting diversity and inclusion among Boston’s employers. Before joining the City of Boston she served as the head of the Citizen Protection and Community Affairs Departments at the Consulate of Mexico in Boston, and the head of Political Affairs and Press at the Embassy of Mexico in Colombia. Del Rio earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations from New York University and a masters in public policy from Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Del Rio was recognized by the Harvard Kennedy School with the Jane Mansbridge Research Award for distinguished research related to gender and public policy and the 2016 Outstanding Policy Analysis Exercise Award, for her paper on gender equality in the Foreign Service. Locally, Del Rio is a member of the Board of Directors of the Veronica Robles Cultural Center; Partakers Inc., and Excel Academy, and contributes monthly as a columnist in El Heraldo Latino Newspaper. Del Rio was born in Mexico City and raised as a bicultural child between the U.S. and Mexico.

In addition to her native Spanish, she can also speak French and Italian. Former Edward’s Chief of Staff and lifelong Eastie resident, Gabriela Coletta is also mulling a run for her former boss’s seat. Coletta, who left Edward’s office over the summer to become the External Relations Manager for the New England Aquarium’s downtown waterfront planning initiative, first joined Edwards in 2017 as her campaign manager for the Boston City Council seat and also worked on the campaigns for Rep. Adrian Madaro and interned Rep. Aaron Michlewitz.

“Thank you, for everything, Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards,”said Coletta last week in a statement after Edward’s win. “I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to serve the district as your Chief and to have had a seat at the table witnessing your fearless advocacy. The fight continues for housing justice, environmental justice, and tackling education inequities. I’m taking time to talk to family and friends to consider if this is the best opportunity to serve the district I’m so proud to call my home. Thank you to everyone who has reached out so far. I’ll have more to say soon.” Coletta graduated from Boston Latin Academy and went on to graduate from UMass Boston before beginning her career in public service. Eastie resident Jason Ruggiero, who has spearheaded the PLAN: East Boston initiative for the Boston Planning and Development, is also considering a run for the seat. Like Coletta, Ruggiero congratulated Edwards on her victory last week saying, “ I’ve had the privilege to see first-hand up close and personal the work that Lydia has done as the Boston City Councilor for District One, representing East Boston, Charlestown and the North End. As someone who also represents these communities at an Agency level within the City of Boston, I applaud and thank Lydia for all she has done for these communities.”

Ruggiero added that while Edward’s work and advocacy will transition to the State House, over the next few weeks he will be considering a candidacy to attempt to fill her “tremendous shoes” at City Hall. “Our next City Councilor needs to put our community and the people first, be creative in how to address the complex challenges before us today, and fight for everyone with the urgency and dedication Lydia has shown over the last four years,” he said. “The diversity of our district is its beauty, and our unity in advocacy and representation is its strength. There is no more urgent time than now to ensure we have dedicated public servants representing our communities on the elected level. East Boston, Charlestown, the North End, I look forward to talking to you more soon.”

The North End’s Stephen Passacantilli, who ran an unsuccessful bid against Edwards for the District 1 seat back in 2017 is rumored to be considering another shot at the seat. Passacantilli signaled last week that he’d be a ‘fool’ to not consider another run but would discuss it with his family before making any decisions. Eastie’s Andreas Castillo, a lead organizer for City Life/Vida Urbana, is also planning a run for the seat. Castillo has dedicated his career to fighting gentrification and displacement in Boston through his work with City Life.

Catillo holds a degree in Political Science and Government from Suffolk University. There were some rumors that former District 1 City Councilor Sal LaMattina may come out of retirement to once again serve the people of Eastie, the North End and Charlestown but in a statement to the media LaMattina said, “While the prospect of working again on behalf of the people of Boston would be exciting and rewarding I have learned to value my retirement and enjoy the time I can spend with family and friends. Therefore, after careful consideration, I will not be a candidate for the District 1 City Council seat.  Moreover, I look forward to providing support and guidance to whomever is elected to succeed my friend, Senator-elect Lydia Edwards

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