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Briefings: Lesser Shakes up Senate Staff for Sophomore Term…

UPDATED 1/23/17 11:53AM: To reflect a correction. Samantha Kelly, Lesser’s Legislative Director, does not also carry the title of Legislative Aide.

Ready for Round 2? Sen. Lesser in 2015. (WMassP&I)

As Eric Lesser starts a new term in the Massachusetts Senate, some fresh faces will serve him in district and in Boston.  The Longmeadow Democrat has also rejiggered his office structure, moving around and retitling staffers who will remain as he sets to execute—or rather legislate—his agenda in the new session.

Veterans of his first term slated to remain, Michael Clark and Stephanie Swanson, will trade some duties and responsibilities. Meanwhile, Lesser’s office will take on Joel McAuliffe to handle district affairs and Ryan Migeed to tackle communications. Samantha Kelly has come on as legislative director.

The staff changes were announced in a release.

Clark, Lesser’s chief of staff in his first term, has formally ceded that title to Swanson. Previously legislative director and legal counsel—a title she held for former Senator Barry Finegold from 2012 to 2015—Swanson will also have the title of General Counsel.

While Swanson will retain attorney-level oversight of legislative language, Kelly will handle the senator’s policy priorities. Kelly previous served as research director for the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure.

The Senate in session Wednesday (WMassP&I)

With Swanson as chief of staff, Lesser’s top aide will now mostly work out of the State House. While not unprecedented, Senate chiefs of staff often work out of Boston to handle administrative responsibilities as well as policy and political matters at the State House.  Clark, also a Longmeadow School Committee member, typically traveled to Boston with the senator working either there or the district as needed.

Clark’s new position, Senior Advisor and Director of Strategic Engagement, has been styled as a promotion. Senate sources say it relieves him of office minutiae to focus on policy, planning and public engagement strategy, particularly in the district.

Among the top objectives this term, following Governor Charlie Baker’s veto of Lesser’s East-West rail study, will be getting that through the legislature again—over Baker’s veto if necessary. In addition, Lesser may become chair of a different committee chairmanship this session. Clark, who managed his boss’s campaign in the 2014 general election, will work closely on both.

From left, Stephanie Swanson, Michael Clark, Sen. Lesser, Joel McAuliffe, Samantha Kelly and Ryan Migeed. (via Twitter/@ericlesser)

Migeed, the new Communications Director based out of Beacon Hill, takes over for Megan Corrigan who left last summer to run Lesser’s reelection bid. He last worked as a communications manager and speechwriter for Correct the Record, a SuperPAC that supported Hillary Clinton. Migeed will sculpt and disseminate the senator’s message on social media and in the press.

Finally, McAuliffe, a former aide to Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos, fills out the team as District Director. McAuliffe wore several hats for Kos, but his primary portfolio was communications. In Lesser’s office, he will manage constituent issues and, to some extent, relationships with local governments and officials. He replaces Mary Lee Walsh who had held that title since 2015.

McAuliffe and Migeed both bear the additional title of legislative aide. Brianna Johnson, a legislative aide who worked out of the district, left the office in November. Her duties will be reapportioned among the reconfigured staff.