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U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren opens office in Springfield

  • Roger Lau, who is the state director for Elizabeth Warren, fields questions  Thursday in Warren's Springfield office.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Roger Lau, who is the state director for Elizabeth Warren, fields questions Thursday in Warren's Springfield office.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Roger Lau, the state director for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, says a lot of calls to her Springfield office are from constituents seeking job training or concerned about losing their homes to foreclosure.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Roger Lau, the state director for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, says a lot of calls to her Springfield office are from constituents seeking job training or concerned about losing their homes to foreclosure.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Roger Lau, who is the state director for Elizabeth Warren, fields questions  Thursday in Warren's Springfield office.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Roger Lau, who is the state director for Elizabeth Warren, fields questions Thursday in Warren's Springfield office.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Roger Lau, the state director for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, answers questions at her western Massachusetts office in Springfield, which is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. <br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Roger Lau, the state director for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, answers questions at her western Massachusetts office in Springfield, which is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Roger Lau, who is the state director for Elizabeth Warren, fields questions  Thursday in Warren's Springfield office.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Roger Lau, the state director for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, says a lot of calls to her Springfield office are from constituents seeking job training or concerned about losing their homes to foreclosure.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Roger Lau, who is the state director for Elizabeth Warren, fields questions  Thursday in Warren's Springfield office.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Roger Lau, the state director for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, answers questions at her western Massachusetts office in Springfield, which is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. <br/>JERREY ROBERTS

Elizabeth Warren not only took over Scott Brown’s seat in the U.S. Senate, but also his western Massachusetts office at 1550 Main St. in Springfield.

Warren, the Democrat who defeated Brown in last year’s election, opened the office on Jan. 8. Last week staff were busy keeping up with calls from western Massachusetts constituents.

Warren promised to open an office in the western part of the state during her campaign.

Her state director, Roger Lau, said the office is not just a political gesture. “She’s committed to making this a fully functional constituent services office — it’s not just an outpost or a mailbox,” he said.

While sitting in the fourth-floor office Thursday, Lau described the work the staff members were doing in an adjoining room where phones kept ringing. “It could be helping someone looking for Social Security benefits, someone whose check got lost in the mail, or connecting a veteran to veterans’ services,” he said.

In an email to the Gazette last week, Warren promised that the office will have a “very active staff.”

“Our Springfield office will be a place where anyone who has a problem or issue with the federal government can come and receive assistance, and where people can go to have a conversation about what’s happening in Washington,” she said.

In her email, Warren said, “Here in Western Mass, there are great community colleges and state universities that need a strong federal partner in Washington, and there are opportunities for investments in infrastructure that will strengthen our economy.”

Lau, who plans to be in the Springfield office about one day each week, said Warren appreciates that the area “has different needs and concerns than the rest of the state.”

He added, “She wanted staff here that would be sensitive to that.”

The Springfield office is staffed by regional director Jeremiah Thompson, a Northampton native who now lives in Springfield, and his assistant, Everett Handford, who grew up in Springfield and lives in Wilbraham.

Lau, 35, said the Pioneer Valley is “near and dear” to him because he got his start in politics as an intern in U.S. Sen. John Kerry’s office in Springfield in 1999 and graduated from UMass in 2000.

Many of the calls to Warren’s office thus far have been from unemployed people seeking job-training opportunities or people who are worried about losing their homes to foreclosure, which is consistent with Warren’s experience, Lau said.

“With her profile and the work she’s done, she’s developed a reputation as someone who fights foreclosures and helps people keep their homes,” he said.

To promote job growth, Lau said, staff will be “getting out into the community, meeting with leaders and business leaders to see how we can grow the economy here and create jobs.”

Thompson and Handford plan to hold regular office hours in town halls, senior centers and other community buildings throughout western Massachusetts.

With two staff members, Lau said, “We can make sure the office is staffed and one person can be out on the road meeting with people.”

Warren “wanted to build the office in a way that we wouldn’t just be waiting in the office for phone calls,” he added. “It makes a difference when you go to someone’s community. Maybe you’re not going to their house, but you’re there to talk about their concerns and help them.”

Lau said he expects Warren to spend “a good bit of her time” in the Springfield office. He expects her to visit the office sometime in the next two weeks. She also has an office in Boston.

Warren’s Springfield office, which is in the same building as Kerry’s office, is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Warren said that she is looking forward to having a “strong relationship” with people in the four western counties.

“I visited Western Mass. many times during the campaign, and we built a strong grassroots organization in the region,” she said via email. “I’m going to continue visiting and reaching out to families in communities all across the region.”

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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