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Lydia Edwards wins Boston City Council seat: 'We never apologized for our diversity'

Edwards is her district's first non-white municipal election candidate and the first woman to run in the district in 25 years.

A teary Lydia Edwards hugged her mother and sister Tuesday night, as election results popped up on her iPhone.

“Celebration” by Kool and the Gang played on the loudspeaker in East Boston’s Kelley Square Pub.

“We did it,” said Edwards, an East Boston attorney.

After a long battle in what Politico deemed a top 2017 “election you should be watching,” Edwards triumphed over city transportation official and “son of the North End” Stephen Passacantilli.  Edwards claimed victory at around 9 p.m. in a speech to the masses of people who packed inside the pub.

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Edwards took 52.7 percent of votes in District 1, which includes East Boston, Charlestown and the North End, barely topping Passacantilli by 730 votes, according to the city’s unofficial records Tuesday night.

She is the district's first non-white municipal election candidate and the first woman to run in District 1 in 25 years.

Flanked by her mom Bridgette, a U.S. Air Force veteran and identical twin sister, Erika, a history professor at University of North Carolina Charlotte, Edwards accepted the historic win and thanked her supporters for backing what she called a “people’s campaign.”

“This is what a grassroots campaign looks like,” said a teary-eyed Edwards. “This campaign is a campaign of many hands, many colors, many languages, many religions, many people.”

Per Edwards’ speech, 500 volunteers knocked on 73,000 doors and made 200,000 phone calls over the course of the campaign. Edwards also prided the campaign for having a $100 average for donations and a diverse group of volunteers.

“It took all of us and all of our hands to show what a people’s campaign looks like,” she said. “My heart is full because we never apologized for our diversity, and we never apologized for being progressive. We never apologized. We inspired.”

For the remainder of the evening, supporters exchanged tears of relief and hugs, as well as beer pitchers and thick, cheesy slices of pizza.

Lisa Green, 49, had been volunteering on Edwards’ campaign since the summer.

“It’s a happy ending,” said the North End resident as she pulled a bottle of champagne from her purse. “Communities that didn’t have voices before now have voices. And we’re all better for it.”

Also at the party were State Rep. Adrian Madaro and State Sen.Joseph A. Boncore, both of whom endorsed Edwards and greeted her with hugs Tuesday night as “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang played in the background.

“This is a changing city,” Madaro said. “And East Boston is a rapidly changing place. Lydia encapsulates what the new East Boston is.”

Boncore said he feels great “to be on the right side of history, because she’s a historic winner.”