Lydia Edwards Says Farewell to the Boston City Council

Last Wednesday Sen. Lydia Edwards delivered her final speech inside the Boston City Council Chambers after a five year tenure representing District 1, which includes East Boston, Charlestown and the North End.

Edwards’s time on the Council officially came to an end at midnight on April 30 and she will now focus on her work as a member of the Massachusetts Senate. Edwards was elected to the First Suffolk & Middlesex seat in January but decided to pull double duty as a senator and city councilor until last Friday.

“I don’t normally struggle with what to say but this has been very hard,” said an emotional Edwards at the end of last week’s City Council meeting. “I will first say thank you to the people I owe such immense gratitude to—by that I mean the ones who busted through some of these barriers to allow for some of us to be here today. I’m talking about Maureen Finney. I’m talking about Diane Modica from East Boston. I’m talking about Peggy Davis Mullen. These women are part of breaking a lot of barriers and making sure that us women can be here today.”

Edwards reflected on her first year in the Council as part of the so-called “Sensational Six”, which included Edwards, Ayanna Pressley, Michelle Wu, Kim Janey, Andrea Campbell and Annissa Essaibi George. The group was given the honorary title because It was the first time six women of color served together on the Boston City Council.

“I’m the last of the six,” said Edwards. “We were put on the cover of Boston Magazine and we took this famous photo and when you look at that picture we were six city councilors (at the time). Now that picture is of a U.S. Congresswoman, a future Attorney General, a Senator, two Mayors so that is amazing and I want to thank them. Kim Jeany and I came in at the same time, but the other four women were there before us and were trailblazers.”

Edwards went on to thank her current and former City Council colleagues that she served with along the way.

“I honestly have to say thank you,” she said. “I learned so much from all of you and the patience  that you gave me. This body is special and while it is completely different now than when I first came in, the ability to truly become friends and call on each other is something so deeply unique.  I hope that you don’t ever give that up. Stand up for each other. You are the Boston City Council and you should stand with each other.”

Edwards also gave a shout-out to the Council’s Central Staff that she said are instrumental in keeping the Council going.

“To the Central Staff, you’re the backbone of this institution and I am so grateful to have worked for you,” said Edwards. “You’ve raised a huge bar and your approachability, your dedication to the body and wanting us to be our very best. You have been under-appreciated and there was not a day that you didn’t meet your 10 out of 10 every single time.”

Edwards went on to thank her current and past City Council staff like Gabriela Coletta, Joel Wool, Kathy Carangelo, Ricardo Patron, Jesse Purvis and Judy Evers among others.

“So to my family, also known as my staff, if I look like I didn’t miss a beat when I lost my partner. It’s because my staff was literally holding me up,” said Edwards, who went on to tell anecdotes and stories of each staff member that served in her office over the years.

“I’m deeply grateful to every single section of my district,” Edwards continued. “When I first ran I heard stories about how I would never have been able to walk in the North End 10 years ago but the community treats me like I’m their granddaughter. Once you’re your family, your family.

East Boston is an incredible neighborhood that is growing–sometimes too fast–but it’s a beautiful neighborhood and I’m so happy, so happy it’s diverse. Charlestown will always be my second home and was the toughest nut to crack. Many people told me about Charlestown and that I would never win it. Then I went to Charlestown and talked to mothers who lost their children to addiction. I talked to people who were wanting to get into the Union. I talked to people who wanted to pay rent. I talked to people who were proud of my mother’s military service. Ultimately we won Charlestown because we were real, we didn’t promise too much and didn’t pretend to be anything we weren’t.”

In the end Edwards said she was proud of everything she was able to accomplish with the help of her colleagues during her time on the Council and is looking forward to continuing to support her friends on the Council in her new role as Senator.

“I’m sad to leave,” she concluded. “But it’s time and I love you all and I’m grateful for all of your friendships.”

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