WILKES-BARRE — Nearly four months into a $1,227 per month lease, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright’s Wilkes-Barre district office opened this week.
Cartwright, D-Moosic, promised after he was elected in November to open offices in Scranton, Pottsville, Easton and Wilkes-Barre. The Scranton office opened first; one in Pottsville opened in late March. A permanent Easton office opened in early May, but staff members worked out of an office on the ninth floor of Easton’s City Hall since February.
In April, Luzerne County Council approved a two-year lease with Cartwright for a second-floor suite in the county-owned Penn Place building on East Market Street at Pennsylvania Avenue. The lease for suite 201 began May 1, but Shane Seaver, a spokesman for the congressman, said holdups delayed the opening of the the 920-square-foot space.
“Wiring and networking problems” were to blame, said Seaver, and they were out of the congressman’s hands.
“Each office has to be wired by the House in order to guarantee a secure connection, and there was a delay in having this work finished,” he said.
The office, which is staffed by two workers and will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, is located in the former county coroner’s space. The coroner’s office moved to another location on the second floor on Penn Place.
The congressman’s office 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 phone number is 570-371-0317.
The Wilkes-Barre area had been without a congressional office this year. U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta previously had an office in Plains Township, on state Route 315, but it closed when redistricting took effect this year. His 11th Congressional District includes constituents from only the southern part of Luzerne County.
Cartwright serves the state’s 17th Congressional District, which includes all or portions of Monroe, Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Northampton and Schuylkill counties.
“Constituents should know that we are open for business, and that we stand ready to help them with any problems they may have with the federal government or any of its agencies,” said Cartwright. “A significant number of my constituents reside in Luzerne County and I look forward to serving them.”
There are 58,936 registered voters in Luzerne County’s portion of Cartwright’s district.