Lydia has a B.A. in Political Science and Legal Policy Studies from Fordham University and a J.D. from American University. Her law career has focused primarily on advocacy for immigrants and domestic workers: she was the state coordinator for the Massachusetts Coalition for Domestic Workers, as well as the director of legal services/domestic work law at the Brazilian Immigrant Center. Lydia’s legal work has led to numerous accolades, including Super Lawyer in 2015 and 2016, as well as an honorable mention for the 2015 Bostonian of the Year. Lydia has served on Boston City Council since 2018, and was named one of the most impactful Black women in Boston in 2021.
Boston Candidate Science Survey Response
Below are the survey responses from the candidate. To ensure the candidate’s voice comes through to the voters, the content of the answers are unedited.
Technology + Society
As the City uses more advanced technology to monitor city services and communicate with residents, how will you ensure citizens’ privacy rights as increasing numbers of monitoring devices are installed around the city? What will you do to make sure that the data collected will be used for the benefit of all Bostonians?
Protecting civil liberties is critical, particularly as we expose more and more data to local, state, federal and corporate information gathering agencies. I’m proud to work hand in hand with groups like the ACLU and my colleagues on the city council to strengthen oversight of surveillance technologies, and I will continue to fight for the privacy and free speech of Bostonians.
What are your policy priorities to address the ongoing climate crisis? How will you ensure climate resiliency projects are distributed equitably among communities, especially in low-income neighborhoods? What are your policy priorities to protect areas of the city that are vulnerable to sea level rise (i.e. South Boston, Back Bay, Downtown, East Boston, Charlestown, Dorchester, Seaport)?
What are your policy priorities to protect areas that are vulnerable to increased temperatures during the summer months due to the urban heat island effect? Given that trees and an urban canopy have been shown to mitigate excess heat, how would you support the implementation of the Urban Forest Plan for Boston?
I live in a waterfront community and climate change threatens to devastate my home. This is personal to me. My community of East Boston has extremely low tree canopy coverage and is burdened by rising seas, air pollution from Logan Airport and traffic congestion. I will push to finance mitigation and resilience projects that protect the homes, health and economic wellbeing of communities I represent — in the case of East Boston, a community that is majority renters, people of color and which has been a beacon for immigrants for decades.
I’ve fought to protect our communities from housing- and climate-displacement, fought back highway expansion along Route 1A, and pushed Logan Airport to cut pollution that causes asthma and COPD in my community. I will continue to work to raise revenue for climate projects, divest from fossil fuels, protect open space through public ownership and conservation restrictions, shift car traffic into water transportation and public transit, and support our parks and greenways. I believe that, given the extraordinary real estate pressures in communities I represent, both private and public sector need to contribute to greening our communities, from tree canopy to energy usage to climate adaptation, and I’ll work to secure that mitigation from large projects
What should the role of science and scientists be in government, policy, and decision-making? How does science fit into your agenda for Boston?
Science and data are critical for advancing quality of life, a strong economic, racial equity and civil rights. From a fair housing perspective, I’ve pushed to use real data and in-depth community analysis to align development projects with the economic needs of Boston’s communities and the historic burdens faced by communities of color, persons with disabilities, rental voucher holders and other legally protected classes.
Clearly, science is also critical for environmental protection and sustainability. I’m a strong proponent of citizen science projects, and my communities have hosted projects studying noise in the city as well as air pollution impacts from Logan Airport. I believe we need to support, respond to and encourage local action to advance science that advances the public good.
For COVID-19, we need to continue to elevate trusted messengers and ensure vaccination is omnipresent at community activities so people can get the vaccine as soon as and whenever they are ready.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted disparities in healthcare access for different neighborhoods in Boston. As of June 29, 2021, we know that only 38% of residents in Mattapan were fully vaccinated compared to over 70% of South End residents. How can ideas about distributing vaccines, challenging misinformation related to healthcare, and tackling language barriers be applied more broadly to form a more equitable healthcare system? What policy changes should be made to both prevent and respond to future pandemics or health crises in a more effective way?
I trust and believe in the local health professionals on the needs of community health centers and local public health systems. I believe we need to invest in public health as critical infrastructure and invest in community organizations that can promote trust and get the message out in communities facing gross misinformation, particularly among non-English speakers and communities of color who have borne the brunt of COVID-19 as well as economic impact of the pandemic.
How, if at all, has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your positions on education policies? What should the City’s role be in ensuring public schools are equitably funded and serve the needs of our children?
I believe that we need to better align school funding with long-term plans to build confidence in and boost enrollment in public schools. The displacement crisis has sent families out into Boston’s suburbs, creating friction and attracting funding for the schools students previously attended. We also need to understand the incredible impact of housing policy on education policy, in terms of both funding and integrated vs. segregated school systems. We need to invest in physical and behavioral health in every school.
Boston’s technology, innovation, and scientific research ecosystem has long made it a hub that attracts a diverse group of people and talent from around the world. How can the city maintain and foster its international status as a technological hub and attract immigrant scientists to strengthen the diversity, culture, and economic activity of Boston?
I got my start as an advocate standing with immigrant workers, nannies and house cleaners who were unprotected by labor laws, immigration laws and hidden from our society despite their essential work. We must start by first protecting and advancing the social position of the lowest wage workers, while aligning education, economic development and English language opportunities with real investments and trajectories for advancement that benefit immigrants across the economic spectrum. As one measure, I’m proud to have secured the largest ever investment in ESL as mitigation from the Suffolk Downs project.
What is your plan to strengthen the Boston scientific research and technology enterprise to benefit our economy? How can you ensure that the economic benefits of investing in science and technology reach all Bostonians?
With huge amounts of biotechnology and lab space proposed or in development, I believe this is a critical time for Boston to connect jobs of the future and pending development mitigation with investments in education and career pipelines that ensure those who live in Boston today, or were displaced from Boston, can attain family-sustaining wages and access the jobs of tomorrow. This can come in part through securing commitments for hiring, MWBE contracting, and educational mitigation as lab space is permitted, and by using investments such as from the Neighborhood Jobs Trust to fund training in related areas.
Food + Agriculture
What policies do you propose for the City to maximize land use in the city for green spaces and community access to gardens or farms? How can your administration bring more transparency to this process and connect community groups to the resources they need to support sustainable urban farming?
In areas with less open space and increasingly dense development, I believe the City of Boston can do more to require green roofs and walls, as well as explore aquaculture and other “blue” technologies.