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This Week’s LION Cassandra Coleman: Don’t Let Her Age Fool You

This Week’s LION Cassandra Coleman: Don’t Let Her Age Fool You

A unique event is going to be held in Lycoming County on April 30th at 1:30 p.m. at the Mary Welch Theater of Lycoming College, 605 Mulberry Street in Williamsport. For those who read their Webb Weekly cover to cover (as everyone should, of course), it will be evident that this same opening sentence featured

A unique event is going to be held in Lycoming County on April 30th at 1:30 p.m. at the Mary Welch Theater of Lycoming College, 605 Mulberry Street in Williamsport. For those who read their Webb Weekly cover to cover (as everyone should, of course), it will be evident that this same opening sentence featured the “County Hall Corner” article in this issue. The event is called, “Cabinet in Your Community,” and it will be a town hall type meeting for the public to engage six cabinet-level officials from Governor Tom Wolf’s administration. More on the event itself is found in the “County Hall Corner” article. But what is intriguing from a leadership standpoint is the woman who will be the moderator of this event — Cassandra Coleman.

Cassandra Coleman is a 30-year-old firebrand who grew up in the borough of Exeter, a community of about 6,000 people just a few miles north of Wilkes-Barre, Pa. From her earliest years, she was interested in politics — heavily influenced by her grandfather, Joe Coyne, who served in local government for nearly three decades, including 11 years as mayor of Exeter. Coyne took great delight in bringing little Cassie along with her to various meetings and events. She began early, working at her first polling station at age three wearing a sandwich board! By the time Cassandra was in high school, she knew she wanted to go into politics, and served as the junior council representative to Exeter Borough in her junior and senior years.

But then fate took a hand that changed the young lady’s life. In September of 2007, her grandfather was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. He was serving as mayor, and Exeter had a practice at the time that if an elected official passed away, while in office, a spouse or family member could fulfill their term. Mr. Coyne asked his granddaughter if she would be willing to finish his term as mayor.

At the time, she was just 20 years old, a student at King’s College studying political science, living at home with her folks, sleeping in the bedroom she’s had since age 12, and waiting tables at her parents’ restaurant for school money. But despite her youth, she had politics in her blood, so she told her grandfather that if the board approved her, she would do it. At his passing in September of 2008, it became a reality. Two months before her 21st birthday, by a unanimous vote of the borough council, she was appointed mayor of Exeter in October of 2008.

Cassandra Coleman was not a figurehead mayor, though. She had to deal with issues such as an explosion in the middle of town, next to an elementary school, as well as the flood of 2011. It was apparent that she did a great job, because no one opposed her for mayor when her appointed term was completed, despite the fact that 70 percent of the Exeter’s residents are over the age of 50.

She was featured in the May 2011 edition of O, the Oprah Magazine, on “age-defying superstars” as the nation’s youngest female mayor. She probably could have served as mayor for life, but with the election of Tom Wolf as governor, she was given an offer she simply could not refuse. In January 2015, she accepted the position as director for the Northeast/Central Regional Office of Governor Wolf that handles 28 counties including Lycoming.

Which brings us back to the upcoming event on April 30th. Cassandra Coleman will moderate the town hall-type discussion with members of Governor Wolf’s cabinet. It is indeed worth it to consider attending a meeting with so many high ranking state officials, but it is also certainly worth the opportunity to see in action a young woman who has one of the brightest futures in the Commonwealth.

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