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Briefings: A Happy Valentin Day in Markey’s Senate Office…

UPDATED 12:48AM: For clarity and grammar.

Then: Jossie Valentin on the trail for Warren. Now: in the office for Markey. (WMP&I)

Former Holyoke City Councilor Jossie Valentin will remain in the political arena for the time being. After finishing out her third term this past January and serving as Elizabeth Warren’s Massachusetts director during the presidential campaign, Valentin has joined the staff of Senator Ed Markey. She broke the news in a tweet this week.

After Warren’s campaign folded shortly after Super Tuesday, Valentin took time off to spend with her family. COVID-19 restrictions began soon thereafter. However, among the shoots of normality in recent weeks was Valentin reappearance on the political scene. She participated in a Latino outreach event for Markey’s campaign and joined the senator during a stop to support staff at Providence Behavioral Hospital last month.

Giselle Barry, a spokesperson for Markey’s senate office confirmed Valentin had joined the office as State Policy Advisor.

Valentin landing on Markey’s staff was unexpected, but hardly shocking. While on Warren’s staff, the former Holyoke councilor had become a valued aide and surrogate. She often traveled with Warren to events like debates.

Even before the presidential campaign, Warren and Valentin had worked together on Puerto Rico issues, especially after Hurricane Maria. These efforts included the state’s congressional delegation, including Markey.

Senator Elizabeth Warren and Councilor Jossie Valentin in 2018. (via Twitter/@jossievalentin)

Markey’s office spokesperson said Valentin’s policy portfolio would include mental health, education and substance abuse as well as constituent outreach. Many of these had been the focus of another former area city councilor turned Markey hand.

Amaad Rivera, a former Springfield city councilor, served as the senator’s Constituencies Director from 2013 to 2016. He returned as State Policy Director from 2017 to 2018.

Rivera’s portfolio had included serving as Western Massachusetts director for Markey. Rivera left Markey’s office in 2018 to run for state senate. Melissa Olesen became Markey’s Western Massachusetts Regional Director, a role she maintains to this day.

Although Valentin’s role will be in Markey’s office, not his campaign, she is likely to bring value to both. Markey is in the midst of a titanic battle for reelection against Newton Congressman Joseph Kennedy, III. A recurring theme in the race has been questions about Markey’s presence in the state.

Think Globally, Hire Locally? Markey in Holyoke last year. (WMassP&I)

While Markey has broad support from pols in the 413, it remains to be seen whether residents on the ground feel the same as their leaders do. Both Puerto Rican and gay, Valentin embodies the kind of changing demographics in cities like Holyoke that Markey needs to win to secure the Democratic nomination.

A former academic counselor at Holyoke Community College, Valentin has adeptly built connections with the grassroots directly. That, by extension, has helped elect both herself and other Holyoke officials.

More practically, as the city councilor for Ward 4 in Holyoke, Valentin dealt directly with the very issues on which she will now advise Markey. Holyoke, often tied with Springfield as the commonwealth’s poorest community, struggles with educational and health disparities. The ward she represented also reflects the Jekyll and Hyde of revitalization and poverty found in the Paper City.