It was 2007 when Anthony Petruccelli took the reins as the State Senator of the First Suffolk and Middlesex district in Massachusetts. This past December, after 16 years in the legislature, the East Boston Democrat decided to conclude his stretch at the beginning of 2016. Since Senator Petruccelli announced his plan to resign, several candidates have joined the race to fill the open seat to be decided this May. The district is almost as diverse as the field of candidates, representing Boston’s North End, Beacon Hill, East Boston as well as Revere, Winthrop and parts of Cambridge ringing out the region of representation.
Nomination papers are due on March 1st and the field is currently made up of seven candidates from all across the district. At the moment, only one Republican has entered the race packed with Democratic challengers, making the State Primary on April 12th the key day for the competing Democratic candidates. The following candidates are off and running for their party nomination, hoping for it to translate into a victory on the general election, scheduled for May 10, 2016.
With no North Ender in the race, we wanted to compile a brief write up of each candidate. Let’s meet the candidates!
An attorney and lifelong Winthrop resident, Joseph Boncore was first elected to the Winthrop Housing Authority in 2009 where he currently serves as chairman. A graduate of St. John’s Prep, Providence College, and the Massachusetts School of Law, he has been an attorney for the past 10 years. “It seems like people want a fresh face and people want someone who is Beacon Hill outsider,” Boncore said about the response to his campaign in an interview with the Winthrop Transcript. In addition to being a strong activist for public housing, Boncore is hoping to bring light to opioid issues and make opioid treatment available through health insurance.
Lydia Edwards is a resident of East Boston and is a public interest lawyer who advocates for labor issues such as unemployment insurance, back wages, fair treatment for domestic workers, and tackling human trafficking. Fluent in Portuguese and conversational with Spanish, Edwards is focused on advocating for affordable housing, better wages, earned sick time, protection from discrimination and the earned income tax credit. Recently endorsed by Boston City Council President Michelle Wu, who cited her, “values, determination, and track record of progressive leadership, I know she will be the fighter that the families of this district deserve.” Council President Wu added, “Lydia has proven to be a champion for vulnerable working women and men.” Edwards is a graduate of American University, Washington College of Law, and also holds an LLM in taxation from Boston University School of Law.
Diana Hwang is an East Boston resident who believes she can bring her lasting relationships in the State House to hit the ground running on unique issues that pertain to the district. “I’m the daughter of immigrants who struggled to stay in the middle class,” Hwang explained in an interview with The Boston Globe. “And that feeling of anxiety, that feeling of insecurity, has always stayed with me. I’m running for State Senate because a district as diverse as ours needs someone who not only understands the issues, but who has lived them.” Hwang is the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants and will focus on issues affecting women, health care, education, and addiction treatment and support. To date, Hwang has captured endorsements from several state legislators such as State Representative Dan Hunt, State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, and State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry. Furthermore, former State Treasurer and 2014 Gubernatorial Candidate Steve Grossman is on her finance committee.
Since 2013, Representative Jay Livingstone has been the State Representative for the 8th Suffolk District in Boston, consisting of Back Bay, Beacon Hill, West End and parts of Cambridge. A proud progressive leader and resident of Beacon Hill, Livingstone hopes to utilize his experience as Assistant District Attorney in the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, and as Assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. “I know from my time as a legislator how to deliver for diverse communities,” Livingstone explained in a press release, “and that’s what this district needs. Senator Petruccelli was able to deliver for all the communities in the district and it is critical to maintain that standard.” Representative Livingstone is endorsed by Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim, as well as, “municipal officials in every city or town in the district,” according to The Boston Globe. Livingstone is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and received his law degree from George Washington Law School.
As current Revere City Councilor At-Large, Steve Morabito is hoping to bring his experience in the community and his involvement in the housing market to the State Senate. As a Realtor for Century 21 Northshore and serving as Vice President of the Revere City Council, Morabito looks to take his advocacy track record to Beacon Hill to work in improving the quality of life for those who live near Logan Airport, as well as combating the opioid epidemic, while also being cognizant that the threat of terrorism has people extremely frightened. Morabito is a graduate of Salem State University with a degree in Business Management.
The former Mayor of Revere, Dan Rizzo, is making a run for the Senate seat after losing a tight race for his Mayoral reelection, which came down to a recount of 108 votes against Brian Arrigo. As Mayor of Revere, Rizzo oversaw a $160 million annual budget and worked heavily to bring in a casino. Now in his second bid for Senate after losing to Petruccelli in 2007, he is focusing voters on the opioid epidemic, local aid to cities, affordable housing for homeless veterans, and improving public transportation and infrastructure. Rizzo says he is a “people first” candidate, with experience as a small business owner, community leader and a six-year Navy veteran who served on the Revere city councilor for 12 years before becoming Mayor.
Candidate Donald Willyard of Revere is the youngest candidate in the field and the only Republican. A board member on the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Willyard is currently the chair of the State Student Advisory Council. “It is far too common that we see families of the district buckling under the weight of heavy taxes that only seem to be increasing,” Willyard exclaimed on his campaign page, “It is far too common that we see friends succumbed to the awful heroin addiction that has taken over in our state.”