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Cartwright Hosts Town Hall Meeting In Hazleton

February 22, 2019
Cartwright Hosts Town Hall Meeting In Hazleton

HAZLETON — U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-8, Moosic, fielded questions about the area’s youth, jobs and climate change during a Thursday evening town hall meeting held from the Hazleton Elementary/Middle School. About three dozen people turned out and were invited to write questions on cards for Cartwright to answer. Cartwright, who is serving his third term in the U.S. House but his first term in the newly drawn 8th Congressional District, said his role on the House Appropriations Committee can help bring federal dollars into programs that will help the region on a number of levels. “We can do this. We can make this place better. We just have to work on it,” he said. One questioner asked how drugs, gangs and crime could be brought under control. “A COPS grant is something that I can help with,” he noted. The grants are used to grow community policing efforts in a number of different ways, such as by hiring additional police officers. The last time Hazleton received a Community Oriented Policing Services grant was in 2017, but Cartwright said he’s confident that the city could see another in 2019. In the meantime, he said, “we are going to be on the lookout to find other ways” to curb crime. Earlier in the day, he said, he and city Mayor Jeff Cusat discussed language skills and other programs that can help improve the city. One questioner asked Cartwright how to address the nation’s “two real national emergencies,” which she noted as the climate crisis and children and violence. “Wow? How long do you have?,” he smiled. As for children and violence — a type of domestic violence — Cartwright said it’s more prevalent in poorer communities. “The more affluent a community is, the better off everybody is on so many levels,” he said. “When your economy is lousy, everything suffers.” He said he is “doubling” his efforts to attract more businesses into the region. With more work, there will be more jobs, and thus the economy will grow and become more affluent. As for climate change, Cartwright said it’s an issue he is very concerned about. “The climate is changing and that’s because the temperature is going up,” he said. “This is a serious, serious problem. In my view, it is an existential threat that we have to take seriously.” Cartwright hoped that the United States would again become a leader in combating climate change and said he was opposed to the country dropping out of the Paris Agreement in 2017. The agreement, supported by almost 200 countries, aims to reduce greenhouse emissions in hopes of keeping the earth’s average temperature in check. Another questioner asked what kind of projects could help the region’s youths stay off the streets and stay in school. “The question really is how can we loop federal money into that,” he said. As he gains more seniority on the committee that controls the nation’s cash, he said, he hopes to bring more money for youth programs into the region. One person asked how the region could keep its college graduates close to home. “We are interested in attracting high-paying, white-collar jobs,” Cartwright said. On the other hand, he said, attracting manufacturing jobs is imperative. “The reason is because of what we lost. Northeast PA used to be loaded with manufacturing facilities — and some big ones,” he said. “That was a time when only Dad had to work and Mom could stay home. You don’t hear of that much anymore.” Many industries left, he said, because of the North American Free Trade Agreement. “Personally, I’m in favor of renegotiating NAFTA,” he said. Contact the writer: jwhalen@standardspeaker.com 570-501-3592