No-Show: Dem Senate Candidate Skipped Dozens of City Council Meetings As Mayor

Former colleagues say 'it’s not true' that John Fetterman was an effective mayor

Pennsylvania lieutenant governor John Fetterman (D.) /
August 11, 2022

Senate hopeful John Fetterman (D., Pa.), a former mayor who is casting himself as the man who "worked to rebuild" the town of Braddock, Pa., missed more than a third of the borough’s monthly meetings during his time in office, according to public records.

Fetterman skipped at least 53 meetings during his tenure as mayor of the Pittsburgh suburb from 2006 to 2018, according to documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. The progressive Democrat missed just 4 meetings in his first three years in office, but peaked at 11 no-shows in 2011 and 9 in 2015. The tally may be higher, but records for the year 2016, when Fetterman first ran for Senate, are illegible.

Fetterman has been dogged for years by criticism of his spotty work history. Jesse Brown, a former Braddock borough council president, said in 2015 that Fetterman "should have been at all council meetings," but stopped showing up after several confrontations over his duties as mayor.

"He first come in thinking he was in charge of everything," said Brown, who also criticized Fetterman for taking credit for Braddock’s economic revitalization. "Everything that’s happened in this community, he’s gotten credit for it. The people believe that all this has come about through John Fetterman, but it’s not true."

Chardaé Jones, who succeeded Fetterman as mayor, said Fetterman’s failure to show up to city council meetings eroded his relationships with councilmembers. "When you’re not present at council meetings, there’s not much of a relationship there," she told Politico.

Fetterman has faced similar complaints as lieutenant governor. State Sen. Tony Williams, the Democratic whip, told Politico that Fetterman often failed to show up to preside over Senate sessions, hampering his ability to forge ties with policymakers.

One area where Fetterman has shown up to work as lieutenant governor could hurt him come November. As lieutenant governor, Fetterman’s only official duty is to oversee the Board of Pardons. Fetterman has embraced the role, voting to free multiple murderers from prison, a record that has drawn criticism from a group of Pennsylvania sheriffs.

Fetterman’s Republican opponent Mehmet Oz seized on Fetterman’s work ethic with the release of a campaign website this month that portrays Fetterman as a slovenly layabout who works from his basement. The Oz campaign launched the site following a report that Fetterman lived off his wealthy father until his late 40s, when he was elected lieutenant governor in 2019.

Fetterman’s truancy has drawn notice on the campaign trail, even before he suffered a near-fatal stroke that has kept him out of public view since May. Black clergy members criticized Fetterman for missing a candidate forum in February, with some speculating he skipped the event to avoid questions about a 2013 incident in which he pulled a shotgun on an unarmed black jogger.

"If there is already suspicion on the part of the community that race may be an issue and he may not be in touch with the community the way he thinks he is, then this only reinforces that by not showing up," Rev. Mark Tyler, who leads South Philadelphia’s Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, told the Philadelphia Tribune.

Fetterman, who cast only one vote during his stint as mayor, has defended his record in Braddock, claiming borough council members were "absolute obstructionists" who were "committed to my failure."