Comerford assembles legislative district team

  • Newly-elected state Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, recites the pledge of allegiance in the Senate Chamber at the Massachusetts State House, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019, in Boston, where 40 senators were sworn in to new two-year terms on Beacon Hill.  AP PHOTO/ELISE AMENDOLA

  • Pictured from left are Rani Jacobson, Sam Hopper, state Sen. Jo Comerford, Jared Freedman, Brian Rosman and Elena Cohen.   Submitted photo

Staff Writer
Published: 1/7/2019 11:47:41 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A five-member staff, including people who grew up in Leverett and Leeds, makes up the leadership team in Boston and the Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester District for state Sen. Jo Comerford.

“We have a lot of start-up work to do, and they’re just extraordinary people,” Comerford, D-Northampton, said of her team, which she announced Monday. The team has three full-time members at the State House and two people, one full time and one half time, in the district. “The sum total will serve the district well,” Comerford said.

Comerford’s chief of staff, the main point of contact for the Boston team who helps set the weekly workload and strategy, as well as the vision for the office, is Jared Freedman.

“He will be my eyes and ears in Boston,” Comerford said.

Freedman, of Leverett, was a member of Amherst Regional High School’s Division 1 state baseball championship in 2010, then earned a degree in political science at the University of Rochester.

He previously served in the State House for retired state Rep. Stephen Kulik, working on projects that included the Massachusetts Broadband Institute’s Last Mile Initiative, the Healthy Incentives Program and the Berkshire Gas moratorium.

Freedman is joined in the State House office by Brian Rosman, Comerford’s legislative director. Rosman served as policy and government relations director for Health Care for All for 15 years, playing a major role in advocating for the 2006 health reform law that served as the basis for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Comerford said Rosman will be leading the “strategic brain trust” and, with a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania, will be helping to write laws and craft legislative amendments.

Comerford’s legislative aide, the “glue position,” as she describes it, is Rani Jacobson, who has worked for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu. Jacobson is already responding to the significant correspondence Comerford’s office receives.

Locally, the district director is Elena Cohen, a Leeds native who attended Mount Holyoke College, majoring in critical social thought, and who most recently worked for New York City’s Commission on Human Rights and traveled throughout the country for an oral history project call StoryCorps.

Cohen will deal with constituent concerns and policy, Comerford said, so that she can make sure the support is given if a bridge needs to be repaired in Northfield or a handicapped elevator must be installed in a municipal building in Royalston.

Cohen is joined by Sam Hopper as district aide. Comerford said Hopper, the secretary for the Northampton Democratic City Committee, will do a lot of office administration and information technology work, such as setting up video conferencing, a website and a constituent management system.

No office has yet been located for the district headquarters. Comerford said she is seeking a spot that is physically accessible, on a bus route and affordable. For now, the local team is working from the kitchen table at her Northampton home.

But even without an office, Comerford said this week she will be informing the region’s elected officials of her office hours and creating the “people’s office,” which will do outreach in all 24 cities and towns in her district, prioritizing a presence in the largest communities of Northampton, Amherst, South Hadley, Greenfield, Montague and Orange.

This fits with her philosophy of being accessible to everyone.

“I don’t believe they should come to us, I believe we should go to the people,” Comerford said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


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