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Scranton Remembers Mayor James McNulty

SCRANTON — Former Scranton Mayor James McNulty has died after a battle with cancer. He had just turned 71. He’s being remembered for revitalization ...

SCRANTON -- Former Scranton Mayor James McNulty has died after a battle with cancer. He had just turned 71.

He's being remembered for revitalization efforts he made as mayor in the early 1980s and for being one of the city's greatest cheerleaders in the years after he left city hall.

At the height of James McNulty's political career, you'd rarely see him without a red rose, a trademark of his campaign in 1981 that has stuck with him all these years.

Mayor McNulty stuck with things like politics, despite losing far more elections than he won. And he stuck with Scranton.

Being handed a rose leaves an undeniable impression. James Barrett McNulty left an impression, too, along with the roses he handed out during his 1981 campaign for mayor of Scranton.

He had hope for his hometown that was just beginning an economic descent.

"I see it as a dying city, but I see it as a city that with intensive care, can survive," he said in 1981.

McNulty cared a lot and you could say he was intense about it.

"I think it was his flamboyant personality," said Paul Catalano. He had a great vision for the future and he was very optimistic and I thought it was very contagious. The people around him felt the same way; it was very uplifting for our city."

Paul Catalano would take part in a campaign for mayor against McNulty years later, but he says it never affected their ability to work together.

McNulty's political approach was not politics as usual.

He had another trait sometimes absent from politics today: he was positive.

"We were different political persuasions but it didn't mean anything. We sat down and talked and we enjoyed each other's company, and (I) just feel so bad for Evie's loss, I really do," added Catalano.

His efforts as mayor helped turn an abandoned train station into the Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel, now a landmark in downtown Scranton.

He also helped bring the Steamtown National Historic Site to the city.

Though he left City Hall in 1986, his hands were always involved in politics and steering Scranton upward.

"There wasn't one thing Jim McNulty didn't know about politics," said City of Scranton Controller Roseanne Novembrino.

Novembrino said she always had something to learn from Mayor McNulty. The city he loved may have something still to learn from his legacy.

"He made it fun, he really did. He had a great sense of humor and the one thing, he was a great promoter for his hometown, the city of Scranton."

Mayor McNulty had been battling colon cancer for more than a year. He had just celebrated his 71st birthday on Saturday.

There is no word yet on funeral arrangements for the beloved former mayor.

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