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Braddock Mayor John Fetterman is currently in the race for the Democratic nomination for the upcoming U.S. senate election. | Photo by Flickr User Kris Krüg

Mayor John Fetterman is not your typical United States Senate candidate. With his towering figure, all-black outfit and tattooed arms, he was almost barred from entering Huntsman Hall after forgetting his wallet in the car.

Penn Democrats and Penn for Bernie hosted Fetterman on Monday to discuss the upcoming election. With the Pennsylvania primaries just over a month away on April 26, students were eager to hear from the Democratic candidate and mayor of Braddock, Pa.

“He’s definitely an unconventional candidate,” College junior and Penn Democrats President Max Levy said. “He is physically a fascinating person.”

Fetterman believes voters should acknowledge his decade-long experience as a mayor of one of the poorest communities in Pennsylvania. His grassroots campaign appeals to a wide variety of Pennsylvania voters, including many university students.

Fetterman cited economic inequality, gun control and climate change as the most pressing issues he hopes to tackle if elected senator. Furthermore, he emphasized the importance of helping families currently living in forgotten or abandoned communities.

“I’m running because I want to be a champion for cities like mine,” Fetterman said, referring to Braddock, Pa.

Located in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh, Braddock was once a bustling industrial community, home to Andrew Carnegie’s first American steel mill. The town had a population of 20,000 in the 1920s, but decreased by 90 percent in the latter half of the 20th century, losing much of its infrastructure as well.

Since winning the mayoral election by a single vote in 2005, Fetterman has been investing in Braddock through his commitment to community policing measures and youth outreach programs. His right arm is tattooed with the dates of each homicide that occurred while he was in office. Fortunately, Fetterman said, the town hasn’t had a murder in five and a half years.

“We changed a lot of lives for good,” Fetterman said, reflecting on his experience as mayor of Braddock.

Fetterman will face off against fellow Democratic candidates Adm. Joe Sestak and Katie McGinty next month, both of whom have visited Penn previously this semester. Students who’ve attended the events have now had the opportunity of meeting all of this year’s Democratic candidates.

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