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A Pennsylvania native, John grew up in York and attended Albright College, where he played college football. John has dedicated his life to fighting for Pennsylvania’s forgotten communities that have been left behind.
In 2005, while John was teaching GED classes, he was encouraged by his students to run for mayor of Braddock. In his 13 years as mayor, John worked to rebuild his community, creating jobs, stopping gun violence, getting youth engaged, and bringing creative urban policy solutions to Braddock. In 2018, John was elected as Pennsylvania’s Lt. Governor, and transformed the position into a bully pulpit, advocating for marijuana legalization, economic justice, equal protection for the LGBTQ+ community, and criminal justice reform.
John was elected the junior Senator from Pennsylvania in November 2022 and was sworn-in on January 3rd, 2023.
John and Gisele live with their children, Karl, Gracie, and August in a restored car dealership in Braddock with the family dogs, Levi and Artie.
About Senator John Fetterman
A Pennsylvania native, John was born to teenage parents just starting out on their own. At the time, his father worked nights to put himself through college. John grew up in York, PA, and followed in his father’s footsteps to Albright College, where he played offensive tackle for the Lions.
At 23, John joined up with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and his life has never been the same.
John threw himself into the program, mentoring his ‘little’ – an 8-year-old boy who had recently lost his father to AIDS and whose mother was also battling the disease. Before she passed away, John promised that he would continue to look out for her son and make sure that he graduated college. Fifteen years later, John and his ‘little’ had both held up their ends of the bargain, with his little’s graduation from Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, PA.
But John wanted to do more. He joined AmeriCorps and served in Pittsburgh’s historic Hill District, where he helped set up the first computer labs in the neighborhood and taught GED classes to young mothers and fathers.
He went on to earn a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
John returned to Pennsylvania to start a GED program in the town of Braddock, one of the poorest and most challenged communities in the commonwealth. In 2005, encouraged by his students, John ran for mayor. He managed to win the crowded primary by a single vote. In his 13 years as mayor, John worked to rebuild his community, creating jobs, getting youth engaged, and bringing creative urban policy solutions to Braddock. The town now has a community center, urban gardens, and a free store run by John’s wife, Gisele.
Together, John and Gisele have fought for causes they believe in, from immigration reform to LGBTQ+ rights. When Pennsylvania lawmakers continued to push outdated discriminatory policies banning marriage equality, John stood up and officiated one of the first same-sex marriages in the commonwealth. And when they wanted to build a four-lane interstate highway through Braddock, a town that’s more than 80% Black and already suffered historically high asthma rates, John was the only elected official in Western Pennsylvania who opposed it on the grounds that it was environmental racism.
In 2016, John decided to run for U.S. Senate to confront the inequality crisis at the highest level of government. Although he lost the Democratic primary, John confounded expectations, earning 20 percent of the vote as a relatively unknown candidate in a four-way race.
Two years later, in 2018, John ran to be Pennsylvania’s Lieutenant Governor, and this time dominated across the commonwealth, winning a five-way Democratic primary and a commanding victory in the general election.
As Lt. Governor, John has transformed the position and made a bully pulpit of the office, advocating for economic justice and criminal justice reform.
Weeks after taking office, John embarked on a listening tour of all 67 counties, something no sitting Lt. Governor has ever done, to engage with Pennsylvanians about legalizing marijuana. In three months, the historic tour saw over 10,000 people turn out in person and tens of thousands more engage online. Following John’s final report and recommendations, the Governor announced his support for legalization for the first time.
As the chair of Pennsylvania’s Board of Pardons, John has led the fight to give second chances to non-violent longtime inmates and free those who have been wrongfully convicted.
He has taken numerous steps to overhaul the clemency process in Pennsylvania, including eliminating all fees associated with applying for a pardon, making the pardons application more user-friendly, and working to move the application process online. Under John’s tenure, the Board has recommended more applicants for commutation than under any lieutenant governor in decades.
John and Gisele have chosen not to settle in the Lt. Governor’s Mansion, instead opening up the pool in the official residence to children who typically wouldn’t have access to one. They live with their three children Karl, 12, Gracie, 10, and August, 7, in a restored car dealership in Braddock with the family dog, Levi.
Preparing the Next Generation
I was fortunate to get a solid education that helped set me on a solid path. Far too many families struggle to find good public schools for their kids, and the price of college has become outrageous. And there are too few opportunities for the many young people who don’t think college is the right option for them. If we want to prepare the next generation for a highly competitive world, we need to get serious about what education in the 21st century looks like.
In Washington, I’ll fight for universal pre-k and childcare, and I’ll make sure our public schools have the funding they need so our teachers aren’t shouldering so much of a burden. I will also work to increase investments in career and technical programs to prepare young adults for successful and in-demand careers in critical industries. And for students who do opt to attend college, to make sure the cost isn’t a barrier I’ll support efforts to make community colleges tuition-free and reduce the burden of student loan debt that too many borrowers are experiencing right now.
Keeping Our Promise to Veterans
The women and men of our armed forces are some of the best our country has to offer. After everything our service members do for us, the very least we can do is hold up our end of the bargain when they return home. For too long, politicians in both parties have short-changed our veterans through bad policy decisions, burdensome bureaucratic hurdles around the country, and mission creep around the world. It’s disgraceful.
As your senator, I’ll fight to expand and improve health care access for service members, improve quality of care provided through the Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.) by securing increased funding, rigorous oversight and necessary reforms, and increased access to mental health services for PTSD, depression, and reintegration into society. I also believe that we need to improve staffing ratios and grant all V.A. health care staff collective bargaining rights and expand alternative treatments for veterans suffering from addiction issues.
Honoring our veterans means cutting through the noise and getting things done for the people who put their lives on the line for our country. We must do more to support them.
Investing in Rural Communities
When I say “Every County, Every Vote,” I mean it. For too long, politicians in Washington have promised to fight for rural America but have repeatedly failed to deliver. A lot of talk, and little action. Small towns and rural communities are the heart and soul of this country – it’s time we invest in them. When I’m your senator, I’ll bring that commitment to everything I do.
In the Senate, I’ll fight for farmers’ rights to repair their own equipment and take on Big Ag so Pennsylvania’s small farmers can have a fair shot; this includes fighting for improved grant and loan opportunities for farmers of color. I’ll also make sure that long-promised investments in rural broadband and other critical infrastructure make their way to where they’re actually needed, because in this day and age, broadband internet access is almost as fundamental as electricity or running water. We can’t let red tape and bureaucracy get in the way of lifting up our communities that have been left behind.
Respecting Our Seniors
At the heart of the basic American bargain is the ability to retire with dignity. For so many seniors, Social Security checks don’t go nearly as far as they used to. Too often, after spending most of their adult lives working, seniors find themselves choosing between food, medication, and other basic needs. This is unacceptable.
In the Senate, I will fight to protect Social Security from Republican attacks, and I’ll support efforts to lower the Medicare eligibility age to 60 while expanding its benefits to include vision, hearing, and dental care. I’ll also work to pass the Better Care Better Jobs Act to ensure that we’re making necessary investments in home- and community-based services like home health care, personal care, case management, and rehabilitative services. We have a responsibility to do right by the generations that came before us. When I’m your senator, I’ll make that my mission.
Safeguarding Our Democracy
From partisan gerrymandering and unlimited corporate money flooding our elections, to voter suppression legislation, to election denial and the events of January 6, our democracy is in serious danger.
Last year, I became one of the first candidates in the country to call for abolishing the filibuster for a reason: it stands in the way of getting things done for Pennyslvanians. This includes protecting our democracy from those who simply want to throw out election results they don’t like. When Republicans in Harrisburg tried to undermine our democracy after the 2020 election, I called out their lies. We must do everything we can to maintain and protect our democracy.
In the Senate, I will fight like hell to expand voting rights and push for reforms that get big money out of politics and prevent politicians from picking their voters through partisan gerrymandering. I will also vote to ban Members of Congress from holding or trading stocks, because lawmakers should not be making profits off of the same companies they are supposed to be regulating, based on closed-door information that isn’t available to the public.
These are simple, common sense reforms we need to strengthen our democracy and restore trust in our system of government.
Delivering Criminal Justice Reform
Our criminal justice system is broken. I believe in the power of a second chance, and for years, I have advocated for reforms to our too often unforgiving and vindictive justice system. As Lieutenant Governor, I have fought hard for second chances for deserving Pennsylvanians and to free the wrongfully convicted through my work as Chair of the Board of Pardons.
As your senator, I will fight for a criminal legal system where everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. I will work to make sure that serious crimes receive serious punishment, while also alleviating the burdens placed on prosecutors and judges by focusing on effective diversion programs for nonviolent offenders and prioritizing sentencing reform.
Building a Humane, Safe, and Secure Immigration System
I fundamentally believe immigration is what makes America, America. This issue is personal to me. My wife, Gisele, was a Dreamer who came to America when she was 7, fleeing violence in Brazil with her family. I would not have my family if it weren’t for immigration.
It is no secret our immigration system is broken. We need a system that is strong, secure, and humane. In the Senate, I would support investments that go towards keeping our borders strong and preventing the flow of illegal drugs into our country. We also must work to ensure that our immigration system is humane. I support commonsense immigration reforms that will restore our country’s legacy as a nation built by immigrants. In the Senate, I will work to modernize our visa system and asylum programs so that they can’t be exploited by bad actors. I will also fight for a pathway to citizenship for frontline workers, small business owners, and young people who have only known this country as their home.
We have to reject the false choice pitting laws and strong borders against those coming to America to seek a better life for themselves and their families.
Protecting Women’s Reproductive Freedom
A woman’s right to make her own health care decisions is sacred and non-negotiable. Period.
Right-wing extremists have been hellbent on rolling back abortion access since the ink was barely dry on the Roe v. Wade decision. And in the decades since, the GOP has worked to do away with this fundamental right with extreme laws aimed at banning abortions without exceptions for rape or incest and even putting women who seek abortions and doctors who perform them behind bars.As your senator, I will vote to enshrine access to safe and legal abortion into federal law by passing the Women’s Health Protection Act, because deciding how and when to become a mother is a decision that should always be made by a woman and her doctor — not politicians. I will also stand up to attacks on Planned Parenthood, and fight to repeal the Hyde Amendment.
Democrats must do everything we can to protect this fundamental right. I believe that if you are not willing to do whatever it takes to protect abortion rights when they are on the line, then you cannot call yourself pro-choice. It’s that simple.
Guaranteeing Health Care
I believe that health care is a basic, fundamental human right, not a privilege. But health care in America is far too expensive and convoluted. In the richest nation on earth, I believe we have a moral duty to guarantee quality health care coverage for every American, and end the disgusting practice of corporations profiting from people’s health and well-being.
In the Senate, I will support any legislation that gets us closer to the goal of universal health care coverage. I’m less fixated on what you call it, and more focused on the result: ensuring access to health care for every American. I will also support efforts to lower the Medicare eligibility age to 60 while expanding its benefits to include vision, hearing, and dental care.
Under our current system, many people are forced to pay thousands of dollars for medicine that they need to survive. It’s inhumane and inexcusable. If we are going to bring down the prices of prescription drugs, we need to go after the pharmaceutical companies that jack up the prices. We have finally passed a law to allow Medicare to negotiate certain drug prices and cap annual prescription drug costs, but we cannot stop there–we must allow for the importation of lower priced prescription drugs from other countries and limit drug costs for all Americans.
Weed should be legal, nationwide — for jobs, justice, veterans, farmers, and revenue. It’s far past time we end the failed war on drugs and let go of this bizarre superstition and criminalization of a plant. Almost every state allows some form of medical marijuana, and 19 states and DC have legalized adult recreational use. But more than 350,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana in 2020, and because marijuana is still illegal under federal laws, people who are using this plant legally in their home state may still be denied federal employment. It’s flat wrong.
In the Senate, I’ll work to end the war on drugs by fighting to deschedule marijuana, expunge the records of those convicted of nonviolent marijuana offenses, and prevent the monopolization of this vibrant new industry. We have to end the national patchwork of marijuana laws that hurts patients, business owners, and the economy and move our views on this subject out of the Stone Age.
Securing LGBTQIA+ Rights
I have consistently stood with the LGBTQIA+ community. Back in 2013, when same-sex marriages were still banned in Pennsylvania, I was the first and only elected official in western Pennsylvania to solemnize same-sex weddings. This was one of my proudest moments as mayor. I officiated more than two dozen before the ban was finally overturned. I believe everyone deserves equal protection under the law, and with extreme Republicans trying to pass legislation that discriminates against LGBTQIA+ Americans and targets transgender kids to score cheap political points, we need to fight back.
In the Senate, I will vote to finally pass the Equality Act, which would ensure that civil rights laws — like protections against discrimination in employment and housing — apply to sexual orientation and gender identity. I will also support efforts to end the hateful practice of so-called “conversion therapy,” and fight to strengthen anti-harrassment policies on school and college campuses.
Taking on Crime
Everyone has the right to feel safe in their communities. And unlike Dr. Oz, I have actually taken on crime. As Mayor of Braddock and its chief law enforcement officer, I worked with the chief of police, our police officers, and the community to reduce violent crime. One of my proudest achievements as Mayor was when Braddock went five and a half years without a gun death. I’ve worked hand-in-hand with the police and I understand the challenges our police forces face and how to support them to make communities more safe. As your senator, I will make sure law enforcement has the resources necessary to do their job, but I will also prioritize oversight, accountability, and violence prevention.
True public safety also must include ending the tragedy of mass shootings in this country. The United States is the only country that sees this level of mass shootings, and we have the power to end it. I’m a gun owner, and I’ve been around guns my whole life. I want what an overwhelming majority of Americans, including the majority of gun owners, want – which is common sense gun safety measures. We need universal background checks, red flag laws, and more proactive efforts to get illegal guns off our streets. This is personal for me, and every time we delay real action, we’re only counting down the hours until the next tragedy. Enough.
Fighting Inflation + Lowering Costs
Across Pennsylvania, people are getting squeezed. We’re paying more at the grocery store, more at the pump, and more almost everywhere else. Inflation is a tax on working people, and we must do more to stop it.
First and foremost, we have to tackle the corporate greed that’s been contributing to the sky high prices. In the Senate, I will fight for a fair tax code that ensures the wealthiest Americans and corporations don’t get away with scamming the system, and finally pay their fair share. We can and must build an economy that works for all of us.
To bring down costs, we also need to make our supply chains more resilient and ensure that they start and end here at home – because supply chains get a lot less complicated when we make stuff here, not overseas. Making more stuff here in America would mean prices wouldn’t spike every time there’s a problem overseas. We don’t need to be outsourcing any more jobs and production to China, while exacerbating inflation.
And when it comes to gas prices, we should suspend the federal gas tax to provide immediate relief for people at the pump. We should also continue to use American oil, produce and invest in more American energy, and invest in programs that help low-income Pennsylvanians pay their energy bills. And finally, it’s time we crack down on the big oil companies who are making record profits while jacking up prices for all of us. Instead of raising costs at the pump, these oil companies should be working to help drive prices down, even if it means their CEOs make a little bit less.
The bottom line is that we have to make more stuff in America and bring manufacturing and jobs back home — not just to America, but to right here in Pennsylvania.
Across the Commonwealth, Pennsylvanians are paying astronomical prices at the pump. But the truth is, prices wouldn’t be this high if it weren’t for the greed of oil companies. While we are getting squeezed, companies like Shell, Chevron, BP and ExxonMobil are raking in record-breaking profits. It’s gross and it’s hurting Pennsylvania families.
We must do everything we can to bring down gas prices, including suspending the federal gas tax to provide immediate relief for people at the pump. We should also continue to use American oil, produce and invest in more American energy, and invest in programs that help low-income Pennsylvanians pay their energy bills.
I believe that climate change is an existential threat, and we need to transition to clean energy as quickly as possible. But we must do it in a way that preserves the union way of life for the thousands of workers currently employed or supported by the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania and the communities where they live. We need to make sure that as we transition we honor and uphold the union way of life for workers across Pennsylvania, and create thousands of good-paying union jobs in clean energy in the process.
In the Senate, I will support legislation that combats high gas prices, invests in upgrading infrastructure, and responsibly transitions us to cleaner energy sources. We must make proper investments in greener, cleaner technology in America — and make more of that technology right here at home. I have never taken a dime from the fossil fuel industry, and I never will. So you can be assured that any vote I take when it comes to energy production and climate will be what I believe is right — not what fossil fuel executives tell me to do.
This is what I’ve been saying for nearly 15 years: I believe that clean energy can revitalize former steel towns all across Pennsylvania, including Braddock, the town I call home. It’s a total false choice that we have to choose between creating jobs and working towards a cleaner environment — we can and must do both.
Supporting Workers + the Union Way of Life
For the past 40 years, the rich have gotten richer while the workers who actually keep this country running have fallen farther and farther behind. The past two years have made this abundantly clear—management, elites, and politicians praised essential workers, but failed to back up those words with actual support. It is past time to build an economy that works for all of us, not just the people at the top. That starts with protecting and expanding the union way of life.
The union way of life is sacred, and as a public servant, I have always stood up for workers. I have walked picket lines with striking workers, attended countless rallies in support unionization efforts and have even asked my campaign email list to donate directly to unions’ strike funds. I’ll take this fight for workers with me to Washington.
We’ve seen bad trade deals have sold out people on factory floors, and benefited the people in the boardrooms and sent thousands of good-paying union jobs overseas. The bottom line is that we need to make more stuff here in America and keep jobs here. In the Senate, I’ll work to reverse the bad trade deals that have hurt American workers.
I will also proudly support the PRO Act, which will protect and expand workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively for better wages, benefits, and protections. And I’ll fight to raise the minimum wage to at least $15/hour.
Maintaining Smart Global Leadership
In order for America to be a force for good in the world, I believe that America must first be strong at home. This means no longer embarking on forever wars, investing in communities instead of lining the pockets of defense contractors, and partnering with our allies abroad to promote more stability around the world. I’ve been so proud to watch the world rally against Russia’s attack on Ukraine—an attack on democracy itself.
In Washington, I will prioritize keeping America safe through strengthening our diplomatic efforts and investing in effective foreign aid programs while also ensuring that the best military in the world remains strong and prepared. I will also work to guarantee that we don’t allow China to out-innovate us. There is no reason that the next generation of technology—from defense to clean energy to the microchips that power our cell phones—can’t be manufactured right here in the Commonwealth. A competitive edge is the key to real and lasting national security, and as your senator I will work tirelessly to make sure we never lose ours.
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