The Braddock borough council is expected to appoint a replacement for its well-known mayor, John Fetterman, at its next meeting Jan. 8. The Democrat was elected Pennsylvania lieutenant governor in November and will be sworn in to that post Jan. 15.
Braddock’s six-member council will choose from two candidates recommended by its personnel committee: Isaac Bunn and Pedro Valles. A native of Braddock, Bunn founded the Braddock Inclusion Project, a social justice organization that fights displacement of low-income residents, in 2014. Valles is a police officer in the Rankin Police Department, where he serves as a school resource officer. He was elected to a six-year term as constable for Braddock’s second ward in 2015.
The committee picked the two finalists after interviewing seven applicants in December, according to Braddock council president Tina Doose. In addition to Bunn and Valles, the applicants included Chardaé Jones, Delia Lennon-Winstead, Rachelle Mackson, Dominique Davis Sanders, and Rev. Sheldon Stoudemire.
Once council votes Jan. 8, Bunn or Valles will serve as interim mayor through 2019. Voters will choose a mayor to serve the remaining two years of Fetterman’s term in the November 2019 election.
Doose said this responsibility is one of the most important considerations in choosing a new mayor.
“For someone to be the voice and the face of a community,” she said, “you want to make sure that they have a depth of knowledge when it comes to policing and public safety.”
To become interim mayor, an applicant must receive a majority vote from the borough council.
Doose said she’s not worried about the possibility that the crowded field of seven candidates will split the vote and prevent the council from reaching a majority.
If councilors don’t have enough votes to appoint an interim mayor, the question would go to borough’s vacancy board, which consists of all council members plus a member of the community. If the vacancy board also cannot make decision, an Allegheny County Common Pleas judge would name a borough resident to fill the seat.
Doose, however, expects the borough council to have the votes necessary to select a new mayor when it takes up the matter January 8. “I think there will be a consensus,” she said.
*This story was updated at 2:34 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019, to include the two finalists' names, which Doose released Wednesday.