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“Coffee with a Congressman” Connects Lawmaker, Constituents

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A NEPA congressman is bucking a growing trend. He is meeting with his constituents to hear and address their concerns.

“Congressman, we depend so much on the funding that we need for social services,” said one man who wasn’t the only person to voice concerns first hand to Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-17th District) at a casual town hall type meeting Tuesday morning called “Coffee with the Congressman:. Dozens had a lot to say at the public event held at B’Nai Brith Apartments in Wilkes-Barre. Sharon Biehner talked to the Lackawanna County Democrat about funding for Alzheimer’s Research. “He was very informative to me. And he gave me a lot of hope,” said Sharon Biehner of Wilkes-Barre.

Howard Grossman, the former Executive Director of the Economic Development Council of Northeastern Pennsylvania, also had the congressman’s ear. “We talked about economic development and some of the things like manufacturing.”

Rep. Cartwright said, “People are concerned about the economy. They’re concerned about health care. What’s going to happen with, you know, the ACA in Washington. What’s going to happen with medicaid expansion.”

Congressman Cartwright is doing what the group “Town Hall Project” says more than 180 other congressmen and women aren’t… actually holding a town hall meeting as the August recess approaches. Ms. Biehner said, “We voted for them. That’s why they’re there. So he took the time to come and listen and that, to me, was very important.” Mr. Grossman added, “It’s certainly important for congressmen to get out in the field which Congressman Cartwright has been doing and I think he deserves a lot of credit for that.”

Rep. Cartwright explained it’s simply part of the job even though scores of his peers are balking. “If you’re not a people person, you don’t like mixing with people, you don’t like listening to them, you better find some other line of work,” he said.

Rep. Cartwright says he’s already hosted six town hall meetings so far this year.

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