John Fetterman (politician)
|Mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania|
Assumed office |
|Preceded by||Pauline Abdullah|
August 15, 1969|
Reading, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Albright College (BA)|
University of Connecticut (MBA)
Harvard University (MPP)
John Fetterman (born August 15, 1969) is an American politician and the current Mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania. A native of York, Pennsylvania, Fetterman earned a bachelor's degree in finance from Albright College in 1991 and a master's degree in Public Policy from Harvard University. He moved to Braddock in 2001 to serve with AmeriCorps and start a non profit organization, Braddock Redux.
He won the Braddock mayoral election in 2005 by a single vote, and was re-elected in 2009, 2013, and 2017. As mayor, Fetterman has drawn international attention for trying to revitalize the economy in Braddock, with an article in The New York Times, an appearance on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report", and a Levi's jeans ad. He has made equality,[specify] environmental protection, gay rights, immigration, and marijuana legalization major campaign issues. He ran for the United States Senate in 2016, but was defeated in the Democratic primary. Fetterman is the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania in the 2018 election against Republican Jeff Bartos.
Early life and education
Fetterman was born in 1969 at Reading Hospital in Reading, Pennsylvania, to Karl and Susan Fetterman. Fetterman has described his parents as having started out "extremely poor," with both being teenagers at the time at John's birth. However they eventually moved to York, Pennsylvania, where John grew up and his father achieved success as an insurance business owner.
Fetterman has described his upbringing as middle class and "privileged," saying he "sleepwalked" through his young adulthood, avidly playing four years of football in college and intending to eventually take over as owner of his father's business. In 1991 Fetterman graduated from Albright College, also his father's alma mater, and was on his way to earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Connecticut. However, his life took a drastic change after his friend died in a car accident on his way to drive Fetterman from the gym.
Following his friend's death, Fetterman joined Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, pairing with an eight-year-old boy in New Haven, Connecticut born with HIV, whose father had died from AIDS, and whose mother was battling the disease. During his time as a Big Brother, Fetterman says he became "preoccupied with the concept of the random lottery of birth," and promised the boy's mother he would continue to look out for her son. Afterwards, in 1995 Fetterman joined the recently founded AmeriCorps, and was sent to teach Pittsburgh students pursuing their GEDs. For two years Fetterman worked in Pittsburgh before attending Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, graduating in 1999 with a Master of Public Policy.
Fetterman moved to Braddock in 2001 to work for AmeriCorps, helping local youth who had left school earn their GED. After living in Braddock for four years, attracted by what he called the town's "malignant beauty", Fetterman ran against the incumbent mayor in 2005 and won by a single vote. As the part-time mayor, Fetterman earned $110.22 a month in 2007. His full-time job, directing the Out-Of-School-Youth program, paid around $30,000 annually. In addition to his work with the program, Fetterman established strong relationships with the 16- to 24-year-old population, helping many in finding employment, and working with them with issues involving family, social agencies, and police. He also founded the 501(c)(3), Braddock Redux.
Following his election, Fetterman initiated youth and art programs, created a community center, and has tried to initiate development of the town's mostly ruined buildings and poor economy. With family money, Fetterman purchased the town's First Presbyterian Church before demolition for $50,000, living in the basement for several months. He later purchased an adjacent warehouse for $2,000, placed two shipping containers on the roof for "extra living space" and moved in. He has since purchased and renovated many additional houses and offered cheap, even free, rent. Fetterman has attracted many young artists to the town through cheap rent and starting various art exhibitions. The town's "renaissance" has attracted individuals from cities such as Chicago and Portland, Oregon, drawn by the potential for development and growth. Other programs include a two-acre organic urban farm, worked by teenagers of the Braddock Youth Project.
Fetterman's commitment to the community of Braddock is shown with various tattoos. On his left arm are the numbers 15104 - Braddock's zip code, and on the right, the dates of five murders that occurred in the town since he was elected mayor.
In order to help fund programs, Fetterman has established relationships with local non-profit organizations, Allegheny County's economic development program, and county executive Dan Onorato. Opposition to Fetterman's activities while mayor has come from borough council president Jesse Brown. In March 2009, Brown ordered the borough's code enforcement officer to cite Fetterman for an occupancy permit violation for a building owned by Fetterman's non-profit organization. Brown also asked the judge to move the hearing to before the May mayoral election so that the people could be aware of the situation. The judge later dismissed the complaint.
2016 U.S. Senate campaign
On September 11, 2015, Fetterman announced that he would run for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Pat Toomey in the 2016 election. His campaign was considered a longshot against the 2010 Democratic nominee for Senate, Joe Sestak and the establishment-endorsed Katie McGinty, both of whom had higher name recognition. Fetterman was endorsed by former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, former Pennsylvania Treasurer Barbara Hafer, and the PennLive Editorial Board.
Fetterman's campaign focused on progressive values and building support through grassroots movement, drawing comparisons to Bernie Sanders. Fetterman endorsed Sanders, and was the only statewide Democratic candidate in Pennsylvania to endorse Sanders. Though lacking statewide name recognition, low campaign funds, and polling as low as 4% a week before the primary, Fetterman was able to garner 20% of the primary vote. Katie McGinty won the primary, After the primary Fetterman campaigned on behalf of McGinty. though Toomey ultimately defeated McGinty and won reelection.
2018 Lieutenant Governor campaign
On November 14, 2017, Fetterman announced that he would run for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, challenging, among others, incumbent Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack. Fetterman has been endorsed by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Erin McClelland, Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district in 2014 and 2016, and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. On May 15, Fetterman won the Democratic Primary for Lieutenant Governor.
Fetterman's efforts to create youth-oriented programs, revitalize his town, and attract artists and other "creatives" to his community were featured in The New York Times. An article about him, describing him as "America's coolest mayor", appeared on July 15, 2009 in The Guardian in the United Kingdom.
Fetterman was the guest on the Colbert Report on February 25, 2009, discussing the economic difficulties his town faced due to a decreasing population, plummeting real estate values, and bankruptcy. He also questioned why funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 could not be used to support projects such as those in Braddock. He appeared again on August 16, 2010, discussing what he had been doing and the town's partnership with Levi Strauss.
On November 29, 2010, Fetterman was arrested and immediately released in Pittsburgh. Fetterman had refused to leave the property of the U.S. Steel Tower where he was protesting the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). UPMC had recently closed its Braddock Hospital despite objections by Fetterman and the local community.
Fetterman was also a guest on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore on January 14, 2016, discussing his support for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary. He appeared again on July 19, 2016, discussing the state of the 2016 election and Donald Trump.
Fetterman lives in a converted car dealership with his wife, Gisele, and their three children.
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- Goldberg, Michelle (April 19, 2016). "A Member of "Bernie's Army" Is Still Waiting for the Candidate's Help". Retrieved November 22, 2017 – via Slate.
- Fetterman, John (January 14, 2016). "Why I'm endorsing Bernie". Daily Kos.
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- Fontaine, Tom. "Braddock mayor assumes role of uniter for Democratic Party". TribLIVE.com. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
- "Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, cargo shorts and all, is aiming for the suit-and-tie job of Lt. Gov". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
- "Ed Rendell endorses John Fetterman". December 4, 2017. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
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- "In Pennsylvania, A Car Dealership Becomes An Industrial Home – Design*Sponge". www.designsponge.com. Retrieved May 15, 2017.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to John Fetterman (politician).|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: John Fetterman (politician)|
- John Fetterman on IMDb
- Borough of Braddock official website
- Profile of Fetterman and Braddock, PA on the show NOW on PBS
- Levi's “We Are All Workers” ad campaign focuses on Braddock, PA rebuild - Radio & Television Business Report PR Newswire (press release) - MediaPost Publications
- Braddock Redux
- Appearances on C-SPAN
| Mayor of Braddock
|Party political offices|
| Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania