Not everyone who worked in Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s office has bad things to say about the embattled lawmaker. Despite graphic allegations of sexual harassment against Lopez and accounts of an uncomfortable office environment for female staffers, two former interns said that they are still on “Team Lopez” and that the office environment is a “positive one.” “Assemblyman Lopez taught us that every person counts, every issue deserves attention, and every human being deserves dignity,” Gianna Gelosi, a junior at Brooklyn College, and Andy Marte, a senior at Georgetown, said in a statement. “No constituent should leave the office unserved. More indicative of the achievements of the Assemblyman and his staff is the tens of thousands of units of affordable housing developed under his leadership and the innumerable number of individuals who have benefited from our hard work.” Gelosi and Marte added that the “perverse” portrayal of Lopez’s office in the media was something that neither one experienced. “As two college students who grew up in difficult situations, we owe a debt of gratitude to Assemblyman Vito Lopez and his staff because they have guided us, trained us, gave us dignity and never lost faith in us,” they said.
The full statement is below:
Statement from Assemblyman Vito Lopez’ Staff
In 2008, the candidacy of President Obama made history in many ways, not the least of which was by engaging young people, tapping their interest in politics, and inspiring them to work in their communities. While some of those young men and women may have gone to Washington and landed jobs at the White House or on Capitol Hill, many more returned home and found it difficult to continue their interest and work in their communities.
In theory, a young person can approach a local political organization or a local elected official’s office and they are presented with a long list of volunteer opportunities. Unfortunately however, that is not always the case. For many young people who are looking to start new careers in government or politics, it can be a daunting task. When looking to launch a career in government or politics, without prior connections, there is often no place to turn.
For years now, in political and government circles throughout New York City and State, the office of Assemblyman Vito Lopez has been consistently recognized for developing and advancing exceptional talent. Lopez’s staff is consistently known for having had a great deal of responsibility, a strong grasp of the issues and a savvy sense of government and politics. Assemblyman Lopez’s office has been a launching pad for many careers of young people who have trained in that office and departed empowered and equipped to make a difference at city, state and national levels.
At a young age, we both started working for Assemblyman Vito Lopez. Because effective constituent services are the hallmark of Lopez’s office, we have witnessed first hand the hundreds of residents seeking and receiving much needed assistance. More importantly, we have seen many idealistic young people come through his office doors seeking and gaining employment not necessarily based on their educational pedigree but based more upon a willingness to commit to their community. No doubt Assemblyman Vito Lopez demands hard work from his staff, because as most public officials know, Vito Lopez is one of the most consistently hard working people in New York government.
Assemblyman Lopez taught us that every person counts, every issue deserves attention, and every human being deserves dignity. No constituent should leave the office unserved. More indicative of the achievements of the Assemblyman and his staff is the tens of thousands of units of affordable housing developed under his leadership and the innumerable number of individuals who have benefited from our hard work.
I say “our” because the office atmosphere is one of “team”. As a staff, we proudly refer to ourselves as “Team Lopez” and we see ourselves as a family with everyone being on a first name basis, attending each other’s family functions and truly sharing in each other’s lives. When we have gone away to school, our co-workers contact us and make sure we are well. We can be certain in saying that the environment at the Assemblyman’s office is a positive one. We have both witnessed numerous times Assemblyman Lopez give a personal call to someone who is undergoing difficulty. We have seen him reschedule a full day’s agenda to be at the bedside of a dying friend, and we have been proud to work for an elected official that works tirelessly and without personal gain to make people’s lives better.
This environment has certainly shaped both of us and helped us chart out our paths as we set out to start our careers after college. Some combination of our work and the spirit and principles of the office has given us both a confidence and understanding that has equipped us for a promising future. We only hope to follow the paths of so many others who have left this office and gone on to do amazing things and hold prestigious positions not only in government and politics but in their communities, becoming activists and advocates.
In recent weeks the environment in Assemblyman Lopez’ office has been portrayed in a perverse way, depicting scenes that neither of us ever experienced or witnessed, describing an environment to run away from rather than one to embrace and learn from. After 28 years, there has been a long line of staff that has moved on from their positions in Assemblyman Lopez’ office and we would argue that they look back on their time as invaluable to their careers and as enhancing their understanding for government, politics, and community service.
As two college students who grew up in difficult situations, we owe a debt of gratitude to Assemblyman Vito Lopez and his staff because they have guided us, trained us, gave us dignity and never lost faith in us.
Gianna Gelosi is a Junior at Brooklyn College. She grew up in Long Island and has always had an interest in politics. She got involved in Brooklyn politics as a political science major at Brooklyn College during a meeting on the hospital closings in Brooklyn. She has interned and volunteered at Assemblyman Lopez’ office.
Andy Marte is a Senior at Georgetown University. He attended public schools in Bushwick, Brooklyn in Lopez’ Assembly district and has interned at Assemblyman Lopez’ office. He got involved in politics in Brooklyn through the Assemblyman’s office and Democratic club taking on a leadership role as a young Democrat.
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