SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The race is on for a mayoral seat in Lackawanna County.
A special election will be held in November to fill the vacant position in Scranton. There are 15 candidates running to fill the mayoral spot and two of them were recently nominated by the Lackawanna County Democratic Committee and the Republican Party of Lackawanna County.
Democrat Chris Cullen and Republican Charlie Spano will have their names on the ballot. Eyewitness News had the chance and privilege to speak with both candidates Wednesday afternoon. Cullen and Spano said how they want to turn a new chapter here in the Electric City.
The mayoral seat inside Scranton City Hall has been a hotly contested position. Democratic candidate Chris Cullen and Republican Charlie Spano were recently nominated by their party’s committee as a nominee for mayor. The most recent came Tuesday night as the Republican Party of Lackawanna County chose Spano.
“Hope that their trust is fulfilled and I’ll make them glad they picked me,” Spano said.
As a retired Scranton schoolteacher, Spano says he’s running for mayor to help turn the city in the right direction and build trust again in the city. This comes after former mayor Bill Courtright pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges last month in a pay-to-play scheme.
“We have to clean up City Hall. The corruption, the perception or otherwise has got to stop,” Spano said.
Eyewitness News asked both candidates what they would like to see done on their first day as mayor.
“I am going to conduct a policy review and of the ethics policy. I know the leadership of City Council has passed one. I want to make sure that it is explicitly passed on to every person working for the city, that they understand it, they adhere to it and I will hold them accountable for it,” Spano said.
“Far more transparency. In a specific sense I would go after the $18 million that is outstanding. I’d seek to reform and improve and upgrade and professionalize the license and inspection department as well as zoning, which the city is moving on now,” Cullen said.
Cullen was nominated by the Lackawanna County Democratic Committee Monday evening.
“I think that speaks two things. One, I’ve stated my positions to the party, I have explained my reasoning and they have identified with that and they think it’s the way to go,” Cullen said.
As a lawyer, Cullen says he’s running for the highest seat in the city to bring back accountability.
“And openness and following the law. But more importantly, serving as a source of morale and inspiration for the city itself,” Cullen said.
As far as campaign funds, Cullen says he will leave it up to the Lackawanna County Democratic Committee to raise and handle campaign contributions. Spano says he won’t take donations from vendors or businesses. It will come from residents of Scranton and his own bank account.
Some of the 13 remaining candidates have expressed interest in running as an independent or a write-in during the special election. That election will be held on November 5. The newly elected mayor will take office in January 2020.