Matt Cartwright Talks Policy With University Students
By Victoria Scruse and Jackson Feiner – Staff Writers
On November 8, people across Pennsylvania will be heading to the polls for the statewide elections. People will vote for governor, senator and in some districts, their congressperson.
The University of Scranton and the greater NEPA area belong to Pennsylvania’s 8th congressional district.
Matt Cartwright has represented this district in the House of Representatives since 2019.
This year’s election is between the incumbent Matt Cartwright (D) and the challenger Jim Bognet (R).
We reached out to both candidates in hopes of doing an interview with both so that readers are informed. The Bognet campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Q: What initially made you want to run for public office?
A: As a trial attorney, I fought for those who were wronged. I saw a system that didn’t work for working people, and I knew that something had to be done to make sure everyday people were given a fair shot, not the powerful and well-connected. In Congress, I saw an opportunity to help people on a much broader scale. The fight to stand up for working people is still the fight I am waging in Washington on your behalf.
Q: Lackawanna County/Scranton has been in a state of economic disrepair since the closing of the mines in the 60s and 70s. What needs to be done to revitalize the area?
A: We need to create jobs in our area that look to the future. This will help keep our best and brightest in northeastern Pennsylvania. I recently secured $16.62 million for the University of Scranton to build a research facility for academic science. This facility will focus on engaging K through 12 students and get them interested in the fields of health, STEM and cybersecurity. I also secured a $1 million National Science Foundation grant for the University of Scranton and Marywood University. These investments in our community’s higher education institutions will help build a local workforce to bring NEPA forward.
Q: 21.8% of the Population of Scranton is living below the poverty line, the national average is 12.8%. What have you/will you do to help your Constituents out of Poverty?
A: I secured funding for the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Project (HVRP) to serve veterans in Luzerne, Lackawanna and Monroe Counties. This program is designed to help them reintegrate into the community after military service, lifting up our veterans who have served their country. I also secured a nearly $4 million dollar grant for Scranton-Lackawanna Head Start. That effort, along with future investments, will help kids who need it most, giving them a shot at a better life by providing them with a quality education regardless of their zip code.
Q: Scranton’s population has declined from its peak by 46.9%. Why is this? And what can be done to Attract more people to the Area?
A: I recently led a coalition of regional partners to urge the Federal Railroad Administration to restore passenger rail service between Scranton and New York City. Seeing this rail service fully restored would significantly boost the development and tourism in northeastern Pennsylvania with an estimated impact of $87 million per year. I’m working every day to build a local economy that works for working people.
Q: What do you think should be done (if anything) about the massive amount of student debt in the country?
A: We need to see significant reforms to make college more affordable and to prevent college graduates from drowning in debt. We should additionally provide support for anyone who chooses alternatives to higher education, such as apprenticeships and workplace certifications. Lifting members of our community regardless of their career path is how we move NEPA forward. Making college more affordable and accessible is crucial for building and retaining our area’s workforce.
Q: With your new policies brought to the table, do you think you’ll be able to convince both political parties how influential you can be for all Americans?
A: I have a proven record of sponsoring and supporting legislation with members of both parties. Over my ten years in Congress, I’ve introduced more bipartisan legislation than any other House Democrat over that same period. 77.1% of my votes have been bipartisan in nature, attracting the support of both Republican and Democratic representatives. I’ve sponsored bipartisan legislation to deliver justice to the marines, workers and families who were impacted by the drinking water at Camp Lejeune, and to restore our local environment from the damage inflicted by abandoned coal mines. I will always put the working men and women of our community before party and politics.
Q: Scranton’s gender salary gap is relatively large (with women stemming around 52,000 and males stemming around 72,000, Do you believe you can change this?
A: While growing our local economy, we cannot lose sight of those who have historically been left behind. I cosponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act to address wage discrimination on the basis of sex. I also recently secured funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for their Connect Inclusive Program in Luzerne County. This program will provide training and support to women owned businesses here in northeastern Pennsylvania. Ensuring everyone has a fair shot is the reason I first ran for Congress, and it continues to be my guiding purpose as your congressman.
Cartwright stands for equality in the workforce, reduction in student debt, reduction in poverty, increased job opportunities, the prevention of big oil companies from taking advantage of the common man, and an increase in tourism in our area. He is actively involved in policies and legislation to better the lives of Pennsylvanians.