Local Government Represents Scranton at White House 

By Victoria Scruse – Staff Writer

SCRANTON—Mayor of Scranton Paige Cognetti continues to fulfill the needs of community members since her 2020 election win.  

Recently, she awarded five microgrants to businesses that are new or in early stages of development. The grants range from $2,500 to $5,000. Cognetti’s decision to issue the grants will benefit the community by helping fund attractive additions to Scranton.  

When Mayor Cognetti was campaigning she stated that she wished to, “build a more vibrant, inclusive, equable economy.” It is no surprise Cognetti has kept her promise.  

Cognetti’s trip to the White House with District Attorney Mark Powell proves her key role in amplifying Scranton voices.  

Powell spent 27 years working in private practice as Lackawanna’s County top criminal and civil trial attorney. His love for mentoring and teaching young prosecutors ameliorated his leadership and communications skills. With his reputation and experience, Powell knew he would be the right candidate for district attorney.  

Once elected, Powell served as both district attorney co-chair to the Lackawanna Recovery Coalition. He then “secured a $900,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to study the root causes of overdose deaths in Lackawanna County and propose effective solutions,” to the opioid crisis. This highlights how Powell’s communication skills and previous experience lets him rightfully impact community members as district attorney by letting them be seen. 

Together on Sep. 30, the Mayor and District Attorney combined their experiences and power to travel to the Pennsylvania Forum at the White House. Their goal was to improve the lives of Scranton community members.  

The Biden administration hosted the Pennsylvania Forum to create a platform for administration to hear local communities across Pennsylvania. Topics addressed concerned the economy, reducing gun violence, the opioid crisis and helping the middle class.  

District Attorney Powell spoke about drug and crime issues. Powell recited the increase in juvenile crime is connected to the increased number of weapons. 

The Mayor addressed issues with the American Rescue Plan. Mayor Cognetti mentions the use of ARPA-funded small business façade improvement grants will help rehabilitate “beautiful buildings” in Scranton. The grant can also be used to focus on behavioral, opioid and wellness programs. In other words, funding business will make the Electric City brighter than before.  

After the Pennsylvania Forum came to an end, Mayor Cognetti speculated the relationship between Scranton and the White House is amicable, since the Biden administration is open and responsive to community concerns.  

President Biden’s planted roots in Scranton gives Mayor Cognetti a warm feeling. She finds comfort that  “a person from the top is somebody who is from Scranton and knows that things get done at the local level.” Biden does not disappoint fellow Scranton members by being responsive in fulfilling community concerns. 

Responsiveness is a vital component of the communication between community members and administration. Being heard as a person gives a sense of recognition and appreciation.  

Representatives such as the Mayor and District Attorney provide the voices we need to have in order to say what we need to say.  

As a college student and a citizen of the world, I look at Mayor Cognetti and District Attorney Powell as manifested models of what being a political representative means.