Councilmember-elect Paul Vallone has picked the team he’ll take to City Hall in January, The Courier has learned.
The seven-member staff consists mostly of longtime supporters and includes two former employees of Queens elected officials and the aunt of a local assemblymember.
“These are people who believed in me five years ago, when I first started,” Vallone said during an interview at his family’s Flushing law firm. “They’ve been with me since day one. They’ve grown with me, bled with me, laughed with me. They did everything with me. I trust them.”
The incoming lawmaker appointed Jonathan Szott as his chief of staff, snatching the top aide from his term-limited brother, Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.
He is also taking Michael Yon from his part-time gig at Assemblymember Ron Kim’s office to work constituent services and community outreach in the Korean communities.
Both workers received blessings from their former bosses before the switch.
“For me, it was easy to decide, even though it’s really not a lot of time,” Vallone said. “It’s really only been a month since the election. It was probably harder to cut down the list.”
The hires were finalized last week, the freshman legislator said.
They include Communications Director Lionel Morales, Director of Constituent Services/Treasurer Vito Tautonico and part-timers Breeana Mulligan and Ahmed Nazar.
Kate Boehme, the aunt of Assemblymember Ed Braunstein, will also help part-time in the communications department. Boehme and other members of Braunstein’s family helped a lot with campaigning, Vallone said.
“They were with me this summer from beginning to end. She’ll be a big asset,” he said.
There may also be room to add one or two more positions, including legislative director, Vallone said.
Also up in the air is where the incoming councilmember will work.
The Flushing branch of the family’s law firm at 25-59 Francis Lewis Boulevard will close after five years, as Vallone prepares to transition into a full-time elected official.
High hopes of transforming the office into his City Council headquarters may be dashed since the bathroom is not yet wheelchair accessible.
“It’s going to be hard parting with this place,” said Vallone. “My wife and I did everything here. I mean everything, from kids’ homework to the Clinton Democratic Club to both campaigns.”
Vallone starts his new job January 1. He will be officially sworn into the City Council January 8 and will have a local inauguration January 5.
But work has already begun, Vallone said, and calls have been pouring in from constituents in need.
The lawmaker-to-be said he has already gotten commitments from the city’s School Construction Authority officials, saying they will move away from building a school in Whitestone.
And while it is too late to change plans for a Bayside school at the former Keil Bros. site — something Vallone said he opposed, despite other claims — the city pledged to keep the school zoned for School District 26 only, Vallone said.
“It’s still an unfortunate location, but that’s a major victory,” he said.
Vallone replaces Republican Councilmember Dan Halloran, who was indicted on corruption charges earlier this year.
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