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Ross taps top operative as acting chief of staff

One day after she helped an ex-aide to U.S. Sen. John Kerry win the top slot in Newton City Hall, a veteran political operative is headed to Boston City Council President Michael Ross’s office.

Deborah Shah will be Ross’s acting chief of staff, temporarily replacing Reuben Kantor, who left in early October to work on Ayanna Pressley’s successfully City Council At-Large bid and isn’t returning. Shah starts on Thursday.

"The hottest superstar in grassroots politics is going to serve as my acting chief of staff for the time being," Ross told the Reporter. "I’m honored to have her."

In Newton, Shah shepherded Setti Warren’s mayoral run, helping him beat state Rep. Ruth Balser. Warren started with low name recognition before coming in behind Balser in September’s preliminary election. On Tuesday, Warren finished 463 votes ahead of her.

"I attribute that to two things. One: Setti Warren is a spectacular candidate. Two: Deb Shah," Ross said.

Shah has worked as Ross’s campaign manager and managed a number of state Senate races, including Sonia Chang-Diaz’s toppling last year of then-Sen. Dianne Wilkerson in the Second Suffolk District.

Shah has also served as regional field director for Deval Patrick’s 2006 campaign and worked for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in Texas and Pennsylvania. She is a graduate of Barnard College and Columbia University.