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Hill Climbers: Grimm Staff Strives to Make Boss Top of Class

Tom Williams/Roll Call

His first experience with a New York Member came from a stint as a legislative assistant for Rep. Vito Fossella (R), which eventually gave him the necessary experience to become Grimm’s campaign manager in 2010. Ringel was also a Marine combat veteran and gets along with the lawmaker well, even earning himself the nickname “Snappy” from Grimm.

The Congressman and his legislative assistant, Richard Hoffmann, also connected on the campaign trail. The 28-year-old, who was born in Grimm’s Staten Island-based district, graduated from Boston College in 2005 and went on to work for an accounting firm. But he was involved in state politics through his work with the Young Republicans, which is how he met Grimm. 

“Two days after the election, he offered me a job,” Hoffmann said. “And I said yes immediately. I had two weeks to move here.”

Another district native, Kerry Donnelly, uses her Staten Island roots — which trail back five generations — to aid her new role as a staff assistant. When dealing with constituents, the 23-year-old is able help pinpoint issues and voice constituents’ concerns to the Congressman. But the best the part of her job, the Fordham University alumna said, is “getting to hear another New York accent in D.C.” when she comes to the office every day.

Not everyone has to be from the district to do their job effectively. Ohio native Blaire Bartlett has been working as a scheduler on the Hill for the past five years. The 27-year-old started with former Rep. Jim Walsh (R-N.Y.) in 2005 and then went over to the office of Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) in 2009.

Legislative aide Emily Wilkinson may also come from the Midwest — she was born in Birmingham, Mich. — but she has family ties to New York and spent time working on various campaigns in the state. The 23-year-old knew she wanted to eventually work for a New York Member, but she got her start with Price as a legislative correspondent before Grimm hired her.

Although the diverse staff may come from all over the map, it’s clear that the group is united in its effort to push Grimm’s agenda.

“With such a huge freshman class, it’s easy to get lost,” Berardini said. “We want Michael to be in the top 10 percent, whether it’s legislatively or amongst leadership, just in every way.”

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