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Posted at 12:25 p.m. on Aug. 19, 2014
The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s deputy staff director is leaving Congress to become executive director of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission.
Stephen Martinko was the lead House negotiator for the bipartisan Water Resources Reform and Development Act, one of the few pieces of legislation enacted by Congress this year.
“His ability to understand and then explain complex policies to members of Congress, staffers, and stakeholders on both sides of the aisle has helped transform the way the Committee does business,” committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., said of the deputy staff director in a press release.
Martinko has worked on the Hill for 12 years and told CQ Roll Call in a recent phone interview that he is looking forward to his new position.
“I have loved my experience in Congress,” he said. “This was an opportunity to lead an agency and work in a field I’m very passionate about and take the next step in my career.”
Martinko said one aspect of working on the Hill that he would miss the most is organizing and participating in the annual congressional football game.
The Ohio native played as a tight end for Brown University and has helped Shuster coach the lawmakers’ team, which faces off against the Capitol Police in the annual charity game.
“You really get to know people at six in the morning, running around the mall in shorts and a T-shirt,” Martinko said as he looked at the football pictures in his office. He noted the game is an opportunity to form relationships and foster bipartisanship.
Martinko knew he wanted to work on the Hill ever since he interned for Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio. He said he enjoyed the fast-paced environment, the sense of community and the opportunity to make a difference.
“Working in Congress is what I wanted to do,” Martinko said. “I fell in love with the Hill and I never looked back.”
After college Martinko became a staff assistant for former Rep. James A. Gibbons, R-Nev. Over the next four years, Martinko rose through the ranks of GOP offices, becoming legislative director for Shuster in 2006. He has worked for the Pennsylvania Republican for the past eight years.
“Pennsylvania’s like a second home to me already,” said Martinko. He said his familiarity with the Keystone State along with skills honed on the Hill, such as coalition building and managing staffers, will help him in his new role leading the Port of Pittsburgh Commission.
And though Martinko is heading to a new city, he said he would definitely try to make it back to Washington this fall to cheer on his former teammates as they take to the gridiron against the Capitol Police.