Back in 1987, then-state Rep. and 54th Ward Democratic leader Max Pievsky sent one of his committee people, Annamarie Feeney, for a job interview as a congressional aide.
Feeney was offered and accepted the job.
“Twenty-six years later, I’m still here,” she said.
The member of Congress has changed a couple of times. So has the location of the district office. Even the congressional district number changed following redistricting.
But Feeney has been the consistent go-to person for many people in the Northeast who need help from their local congressional office.
During Public Service Recognition Week on May 5-11, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz said she believes Feeney has been a terrific public servant. Schwartz called Feeney “steady” and “knowledgeable,” adding that she can cut through government red tape.
“Annamarie has been a very important and valuable asset in the office and for the constituents in Northeast Philadelphia,” the congresswoman said. “She has really wonderful personal relationships with constituents. They are her top priority.”
Feeney, 65, is a Little Flower High School graduate. She spent 30 years living in Oxford Circle and some time in the Far Northeast. She even lived in Yardley, Bucks County, but only for less than a year.
“I hated it. I missed Philadelphia,” she said.
Today, she and her husband, Paul, live in the Arbours at Eagle Point, the development at Southampton Road and Roosevelt Boulevard.
“It’s a great community. The people are friendly,” she said.
Feeney, who has two adult children and two grandchildren, was previously self-employed in the accounting, income tax and real estate fields.
Long active in politics, she remains a 66th Ward committeewoman, along with her daughter Michele Siletta.
Feeney’s first congressional boss was Rep. Bob Borski, who retired in 2002. The 3rd Congressional District office was located at 7141 Frankford Ave.
Rep. Joe Hoeffel, who had represented a Montgomery County district, replaced Borski in the new city/suburban 13th Congressional District. The office moved a block north to 7219 Frankford Ave. Hoeffel left in 2004, losing a challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter.
Schwartz replaced Hoeffel and kept his office for eight years. However, Rep. Bob Brady took Schwartz’s territory east of Frankford Avenue in the latest redistricting, and the office relocated in December to 7712 Castor Ave. in Rhawnhurst.
The phone number hasn’t changed over the years. It’s always been 215-335-3355.
“We still get phone calls asking for Bob Borski,” Feeney said.
So, which boss did Feeney like the best?
“I love them all,” she said.
The 13th district will have a new representative in 2015, since Schwartz is running for governor next year.
“I think she’d be a fabulous governor,” Feeney said.
If Schwartz were to become governor, it’s possible Feeney could land a spot on her staff.
But, Feeney prefers working at the federal level.
“I love the job and I love the people,” she said.
Feeney would be willing to work for the next congressional representative.
“I’ve been very fortunate to get picked up by each congressperson,” she said. “I’m hoping whoever wins the seat picks me up. They’re all good candidates.”
At the start, she was a constituent service representative. At present, she serves as a senior constituent service representative.
“I’ve been here so long, they made me a senior,” she joked.
Feeney told co-worker Terrell Johnson, who started recently, that he will grow to love the job. Also working at the Castor Avenue office on a part-time basis is Rob Borski, the ex-congressman’s son and recent Temple graduate. Schwartz also has an office in Abington.
Over the years, Feeney said she’s worked with some great people, including Jack Dempsey, the district director under Borski and Hoeffel.
On the job, she handles issues such as Medicare, Social Security, IRS, Veterans Affairs, immigration, passports and federal employee retirement benefits.
“It’s such a rewarding job,” she said. “We do help a lot of people.”
Feeney recalls one woman who was unable to obtain a passport because she didn’t have a proper Pennsylvania birth certificate. Thanks to the congressional office, the passport issue was resolved the day before the woman was going away to an island resort.
“She was crying, she was so happy,” Feeney recalled.
Although Feeney and her current and former bosses are staunch Democrats, she said a district congressional office is there to help all constituents. Sometimes, people call and say, “I’m a Republican,” before asking for help. Feeney’s response is, “So?”
Feeney is humbled whenever she receives thank you cards, candy and flowers from appreciative constituents, but said the gifts aren’t necessary.
“That’s my job. I’m here to help people,” she said. ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org