Paige Cognetti, the newly elected mayor of Scranton, Pennsylvania, is not only celebrating her victory, but also a list of historic firsts that come along with it. She’s the first female mayor of the city AND will be the first pregnant mayor-elect in the state of Pennsylvania. That means she will be the first mayor-elect to give birth during her term.
She’s actually an Oregon native and first moved to Scranton in 2016, after she married her husband, a native of the city. She previously worked for Goldman Sachs in New York City. For anyone doubting an Oregon transplant’s loyalty to Scranton, Paige had the perfect response: “Nothing really makes you more committed to your city and your environment…than realizing you’re going to have a baby,” Paige told CNN. “So I couldn’t be more committed.”
Despite living in Scranton for less than four years, Paige already served as the director of the Scranton School Board. Last January, she left the position to serve as the special assistant to the Pennsylvania Auditor General. Paige credits both positions with helping her win the local race. “It really seemed like the perfect storm where I would have the tools and the experience to help, have the backing of the auditor general, who knows…what’s going on in Scranton, where you still have this graft and this nepotism and this patronage network that has really been bringing down areas like this,” Paige told CNN. “Having been on the school board and having kind of fought the machine, basically, on the school board and then doing that in the mayor’s race, it all kind of fed into [my win].”
Paige will be finishing out the term of Scranton’s former mayor, Bill Courtright, who resigned in July after he was charged with bribery, conspiracy, and extortion. Despite being a registered Democrat, she ran on an independent platform to distance herself from the city’s former mayor and the corruption she alleged from the city’s Democratic chairman. She is due in December, and will be sworn in in January.
According to WNEP, an ABC News Pennsylvania affiliate, many of Scranton’s working moms look forward to the changes Paige will bring to the city. “Being a working single mother, it’s hard and I think she can bring in new ideas for us and she can relate to women,” Melissa Thomas, a Scranton resident, told the news network. “I think it’s great actually.”
Paige is proud of the historic strides she’s made—but knows they’re overdue and well deserved. “Being a woman is one thing,” Paige told WNEP. “It’s really exciting to make history tonight, but I believe my experience in the federal government, working in finance, I think those things are what really pushed me over.”