MONESSEN (KDKA) – Monessen is a third class city in southwestern Westmoreland County, and like a lot of former mill towns, Monessen has witnessed better days.
Mary Baumgardner said, “This town was once a lively neighborhood, now it’s dead.”
When the Wheeling-Pittsburgh Mill was going strong, there were thousands of good paying jobs there. But, those Wheeling-Pittsburgh jobs have vanished, and so has a lot of the population. The city’s tax base has eroded, empty store fronts sit along the Main Street, and blighted buildings and homes are numerous.
Presumptive GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump will deliver an economic message, in the shadow of that once thriving steel mill Tuesday afternoon. His speech is entitled “Declaring American Economic Independence.”
Monessen Mayor Louis Mavrakis told KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti Monday night, “If ISIS was to come to Monessen, they’d keep on going, they would think it was bombed already, that’s how bad it is.”
Trump was invited to Monessen by the city’s mayor, who describes himself as a lifelong Democrat, frustrated by empty promises he’s heard over the years from career establishment politicians. Mavrakis said he and his wife worked for the election of Barack Obama in the last two presidential elections.
He said, “My gripe is very simple…the very communities that built this country are the ones suffering the most.”
The mayor has fired off two letters to President Obama, looking for federal assistance for his distressed city. He got no response.
Why does he like Trump?
“He’s telling me what I want to hear, no one else is saying that, I have to believe the guy. I’m 78 years old, I’ve heard this same rhetoric over and over, ‘We are going to do this for you.’ They get elected, and forget about you,” he said.
Mary Jo Smith is a former Monessen mayor, and the current Monessen Democratic Party Chairwoman. She says Mayor Mavrakis is all wrong.
“You are elected as the Democratic Mayor of Monessen, elected by Democrats, why are you reaching out to a Republican?” she said.
Earlier this month, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was in town for the “Trump Rally For National Training Day & Volunteer Registration.”