Braddock Mayor John Fetterman announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate during a mid-day house party Monday.
“I would never pander to you by saying that I alone can fundamentally change Washington D.C. anymore than I could bring back the 14 furniture stores that Braddock once had,” he said,” But what I can promise you is that I will fight in a principled, collaborative way that my 14 years of service here in Braddock demonstrates.”
Wearing a black short-sleeve work shirt, gray cargo shorts and black hightop shoes, Fetterman addressed a crowd of supporters from the rooftop of his home, a restored car dealership that overlooks the 140-year-old Edgar Thomson steel mill.
The Harvard University-educated 46-year-old has gained national attention for his unconventional efforts to reinvigorate the Braddock, having given TedX talks about the efforts to revitalize Braddock in both Pittsburgh and Harlem.
Also running in the Democratic primary are Katie McGinty, former chief of staff for Gov. Tom Wolf, and former Rep. Joe Sestak. The winner of the April 26 election will face Republican incumbent Pat Toomey.
Braddock was a bustling steel mill town once home to 20,000 residents; today it shelters just over 2,000. Nearly 40 percent of the people in Braddock live in poverty.
Fetterman, 6-foot-8 and sporting visible tattoos memorializing Braddock's zip code and the dates of local murders, acknowledged his unconventional appearance.
“I do not look like a typical politician,” he said, drawing laughter from the crowd. “I don’t even look like a typical person. I lack the metaphorical sleeves to roll up, because all I’ve ever worn are short-sleeve work shirts, because I knew back then -- as I do today -- that only hard work can build Braddock back up again.”
Tina Doose, president of Braddock Borough Council has worked with Fetterman over the last decade.
“John has stood for good things, for right things," she said. "And we have less violence and crime in our community because of him.”
The married father of three became mayor in 2006 after working with youth in the borough for several years. He’s been re-elected three times.