West Palm Mayor hires former legislative aide and House candidate as Chief of Staff

Tom Headshot - 1
Mayor Keith James started a 2nd term in March, and is tapping Tom Valeo as his point man.

West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James has tapped former House candidate and legislative aide Tom Valeo to be his Chief of Staff.

A news release announcing the appointment highlights Valeo’s accomplishments as an aide to former Democratic Rep. Matt Willhite, a legislative leader in the 2022 Session, and Democratic Sen. Lori Berman, when she served in the House, as well as his extensive experience in the community.

He’s coming to the Mayor’s Office from Cornerstone Solutions, a West Palm Beach public relations firm, where he worked as the political and public affairs director.

“For nearly 10 years, Tom has worked at the state and local level on legislative, community and policy-focused initiatives,” James said in a prepared statement. “With both public and private sector experience, Tom will be an invaluable resource for our city and my administration as we continue to advance transformational opportunities which ensures West Palm Beach remains one of America’s best places to call home.”

James was elected unopposed to a second term as West Palm Beach Mayor earlier this year after getting restaurateur Rodney Mayo thrown off the ballot. James sued over his candidacy and Palm Beach County Judge Joseph Curley agreed that Mayo did not meet the office’s residency requirements. Mayo has vowed to petition to recall James.

Valeo said he’s excited for this next challenge working on James’ leadership team. He’ll be supporting the Mayor’s priorities, aiding internal administration communication and fostering partnerships with community organizations and stakeholders.

“With deep roots in Palm Beach County, I’m ready to put my experience to work for the city and focus on the necessary and important work to keep West Palm Beach a community of opportunity for all,” Valeo said in a prepared statement.

The announcement credits Valeo with playing a pivotal role in passing legislation that closed a legal public records loophole related to law enforcement geolocation information that prevents public records from being used to determine a police officer’s location. Valeo also worked on measures that gave benefits to firefighters who develop cancer from work conditions and strengthened Florida’s Alzheimer’s Disease Advisory Committee.

He also worked with the Florida Veterans & Military Families Caucus within the Legislature to spearhead a House memorial asking the feds to address the epidemic of suicides among U.S. military veterans, the release says.

Valeo has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Florida Atlantic University. He was one of four Democratic candidates in the 2022 Primary to represent House District 93.

He’s also been the youth music director at St. Rita Catholic Church in Wellington for more than a decade and stepped up in times of natural disasters. He signed people up for federal aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and helped people get unemployment benefits in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Seeing how that was going, he joined groups such as Feeding South Florida to participate in food banks for at-need communities, the release says.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].

One comment

  • Dan Liftman

    July 18, 2023 at 7:45 pm

    Fantastic! Tom Valeo is an excellent choice.

Comments are closed.


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