WILKES-BARRE — When he won election to Congress in the fall, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright promised to open four offices throughout the 17th District. Three of the four locations he promised already are operating, and the fourth soon will be in downtown Wilkes-Barre.
Luzerne County Manager Robert Lawton said the county approached Cartwright about leasing space in Penn Place, on East Market Street across from Genetti’s, and he’s pleased the offer has been accepted.
County Council will vote on the lease agreement at its April 23 meeting, Lawton said. The plan is for Cartwright to move next month into the second-floor, three-room suite that’s now occupied by the county coroner. The coroner will move to another office on the same floor, county Engineer Joe Gibbons said.
Gibbons said the 920-square-foot space will be leased for $1,227 per month — an amount that’s standard with congressional district office space — and the two-year lease will start May 1.
“Making money is nice,” Lawton said. “But the most important thing is that Rep. Cartwright’s office is in downtown Wilkes-Barre and co-located with county government.”
Cartwright, D-Moosic, previously announced plans to or has opened district offices in Scranton, Easton and Pottsville, as he pledged he would after he defeated Republican Laureen Cummings in the November election. He also promised a Wilkes-Barre location, but until now no movement was made publicly on opening an office in the largest county in his six-county district. The district serves all or portions of Monroe, Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Northampton and Schuylkill counties.
The Scranton office opened first; one in Pottsville opened in late March. A permanent Easton office will open in early May, but staff members have been working out of an office on the ninth floor of Easton’s City Hall since February.
“Matt is excited that we have reached an agreement in principle concerning our Wilkes-Barre district office,” said Shane Seaver, Cartwright’s spokesman. “Rep. Cartwright’s top priority as congressman is to provide the highest quality constituent services possible. Our staff understands and appreciates the needs of the 17th Congressional District, and will be superb representatives for its constituents. We cannot guarantee outcomes, but we can guarantee that people will be treated with the dignity and respect and the timely service they deserve.”
The office, which likely will be staffed by two people, will focus primarily on economic development and constituent advocacy regarding issues with Social Security, Medicare, the IRS, veterans’ benefits and other federal programs, Seaver said.
The Wilkes-Barre area has been without a congressional office this year. U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta had an office in Plains Township, on Route 315, but it closed when redistricting took effect this year, and his 11th Congressional District shifted to only the southern part of Luzerne County.