The Race is On

By John Lynds and Seth Daniels

The North End’s Stephen Passacantilli topped the ticket in the District 1 City Council race during last Tuesday’s Preliminary Election. While Passacantilli held a narrow vote margin over challenger Lydia Edwards from East Boston after all the votes were tallied last week, his impressive showing in the North End made the difference in the Preliminary. In the district, which includes Eastie, Charlestown and the North End, Passacantilli prevailed by one percentage point over Edwards, 47 percent to 46 percent (3,624 to 3,547 votes).  East Boston resident Margaret Farmer finished third with 522 votes.

In a political landscape dominated by Italian-American men, with the exception of former City Councilor Diane Modica, Edwards’s win in Eastie last week shows just how changed neighborhoods like Eastie and Charlestown have become. Aside from winning Eastie, Edwards also won Charlestown 1,317 to Passacantilli’s 1,252 votes, becoming the first minority candidate, male or female, to ever win the Charlestown vote in a City election.

The influx of millennials and young professionals to areas of Eastie like Jeffries Point and Orient Heights have shifted the political power that Precincts 11 through 14 use to hold in Eastie. In the recent past candidates needed to win the Orient Heights precincts to ever have a serious shot in a election. However, Rep. Adrian Madaro won the seat during a Special Election in 2015 and did so without winning an Orient Heights precinct.

That race set the tone for future races and Edwards’s impressive showing in precincts 1 through 10, known in the past for low voter turnout in city elections, should be noted.

Edwards got roughly 57 percent of the vote in the three-way race in Precincts 1 through 10 but only got 40 percent of the vote in Precincts 11 through 14. Edwards was even able to pick off Precinct 13 by 29 votes, which shocked some political pundits. That precinct has historically voted in step with the rest of the Orient Heights precincts–showing again that more of the ‘old’ neighborhood is experiencing a changing voter demographic.

Passacantilli won with an impressive showing in the North End – where his base was enlivened, and came out strong to put him over the top. However, that was curbed by Edwards’s wins in Eastie and Charlestown – the two most populous neighborhoods in the district.

In The North End, Passacantilli garnered 1,091 votes from supporters while Edwards finished second with 406 votes. Farmer rounded out the race in the North End with 38 votes.

Passacantilli held his post-election time at the Knights of Columbus in Charlestown, and told his supporters that he was grateful to top the ticket, but the work has just begun.

“It was exciting to be on the ballot for the first time, and I’m thrilled to have topped the ticket,” said Passacantilli. “This is only the halfway point and there’s still a lot of work that needs to get done. I’m proud of the grassroots campaign we’ve built across the entire district, and I look forward to continue listening to residents about what matters most to them. District 1 is a special place, full of amazing people. I have heard so many inspiring stories from residents throughout the district while on the campaign trail.  Each neighborhood has its own personality and its own special charm. I love this district; it’s my home and it always will be.  I know that each neighborhood faces their own unique challenges.  That’s why from now until November 7th we will knock every single door in this district. We will make every effort to hear from every resident in all three neighborhoods. I want to continue to share my vision, but I also want to listen to yours.

Edwards said she was excited to have won two neighborhoods election night, and is ready to march to the Nov. 7 election – challenging Passacantilli to three debates.

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