Hohenstein holds office warming party

Welcome to the neighborhood: Newly elected state Rep. Joe Hohenstein talks with a supporter in his new office at 4725-27 Richmond St. in Bridesburg. According to Hohenstein, his office recently had a joint meeting with City Councilman Bobby Henon’s office to highlight transitional issues between the city and state governments. TOM BECK / TIMES PHOTO

Newly elected state Rep. Joe Hohenstein (D-177th dist.) held an office-warming party to celebrate the opening of his office at 4725-27 Richmond St in Bridesburg. It’s the same office former Rep. John Taylor utilized during his time in office. 

“We really needed a place that people are familiar with and comfortable coming [to], and frankly John Taylor was very gracious and extended the offer to help me transition in here in large part because he recognized that the neighborhood still needs solid representation,” Hohenstein told the Times. “He didn’t want the neighborhood to be missing out on anything as we transitioned.”

Hohenstein will have two full-time and three part-time staff working at the office in addition to a part-time staffer in Harrisburg.

To date, Hohenstein said many people have been coming in for help regarding SEPTA Key cards, unemployment claims and issues regarding Pennsylvania’s Real ID laws. (Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, Pennsylvanians will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, photo ID card or another form of federally acceptable identification – such as a valid passport or military ID – to board a domestic commercial flight or enter a federal building or military installation that requires ID.)

“Those have been the big issues so far,” Hohenstein said. “We’re waiting and seeing what some of the other ones will be.”

According to Hohenstein, his office recently had a joint meeting with City Councilman Bobby Henon’s office to highlight transitional issues between the city and state governments.

The event was attended by a number of local officials, including Henon, Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez, state Reps. Mike Driscoll, Jason Dawkins and Jared Solomon, state Sen. John Sabatina, City Commissioner Lisa Deeley, and various Democratic ward leaders, including Peg Rzepski (31st Ward), Harry Enggasser (45th) and Bob Dellavella (55th).

Also present at the office warming was Hohenstein’s new chief of staff Dan Martino, who lost to Hohenstein in the Democratic primary.

“After he won the general he invited me to have breakfast with him and he just told me that he was really impressed with the campaign and my constituent work and he offered me the chief of staff position, which is nothing I was expecting,” Martino said. “But again, I’m pretty happy about it because at the end of the day I get to do what I set out to do when I ran in the first place. I also get to stay in Philadelphia a little bit more often and help the people who are directly affected, like the people in Bridesburg. So it’s a win-win for me.”

In a speech to all who attended Hohenstein gave while standing on a chair, he talked about Martino: “The issues that drive him are the issues around the opioid epidemic and how much that has occupied and taken over the lives of people in the district. His work in that is something that I respect tremendously, [so] I wanted him to be able to come in and continue that work as well as continue the work of service here in the district as well.”

A key difference between the two during the primary was that Martino was in favor of safe-injection sites, while Hohenstein was not. Martino downplayed the difference of opinion between the two of them when talking to the Times.

“I had sort of gotten pigeonholed with the injection facility conversation just because I was so willing to talk about it freely,” Martino said. “All it is is that I think Joe specifically went out of his way to find people who had very deep roots and strengths into the issues that he heard the most about when he was knocking doors…I think Joe was smart enough [to highlight] what people did care about in the 177th, and specifically sought out people to hire who had previously worked in those issue areas.”

Martino, like Hohenstein, is excited for the opportunity to help constituents. 

“Good things are coming and we’re super excited for the change,” he said. “We’re only just getting started.”

According to Hohenstein, his office has plans to open a second location in either late spring or early summer. An exact location hasn’t yet been picked, but he said it will “probably” be located somewhere in Mayfair. ••

Tom Beck can be reached at tbeck@newspapermediagroup.com