University alumna now Bellevue mayoral candidate
April 18, 2017
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When alumna Emily Marburger made a Facebook post just a few months after the 2016 presidential election, she was not expecting to receive such overwhelming support.
Dottie from Indiana wrote, “You are our bright and shining future Emily!”
Linda from Florida wrote, “Your town needs you and this country needs you.”
Sherry from Texas wrote, “Way to go Emily! Keep up the momentum.”
These are just a few comments left on a viral Facebook post by Marburger, 29, when she announced that she would be running for mayor in her small town of Bellevue, right outside of Pittsburgh.
There are more than 5,000 comments in similar vein.
Marburger’s post was made on Apr. 1, 2017, on a private Facebook group, Pantsuit Nation, which served as a rally of women’s rights supporters during the 2016 presidential election.
Even though they cannot vote for her, individuals from all over the nation support Marburger and her effort to make a difference in her little corner of the world.
She began her post by writing, “Like the rest of us last November, I woke up to a situation I didn’t know existed. I knew I had to get involved. I felt driven to help.”
That is when she began talking to the chair of her local democratic committee, Judy Braunlich.
“I was initially looking into running for council and then she told me about the two men who are running for mayor with no other opponents,” Marburger said. “The incumbent mayoral candidate [Paul Cusick] is an open Trump supporter. His only opponent [Tom Fodi] is a conservative pastor. They are both running as Democrats.”
The borough of Bellevue is 58 percent registered Democrats, 27 percent registered Republicans and 15 percent Independent and other, Marburger said, verified by public records of Allegheny County’s Elections office.
“You can see what the motivation may have been for him to switch. He was a registered Republican in 2012, then switched in 2013 to run for mayor,” Marburger said, referring to public record. Fodi, the other running candidate, has identified himself as a libertarian and also previously registered with the Republican Party.
Braunlich, 56, has been a resident of Bellevue since 1994 and has served as the Bellevue’s Democratic Committee Chairperson for four years.
“The mayor only gets elected if they are a democrat and republicans know this,” Braunlich said. “I told Emily, ‘You have to push that point. People are being fooled.’”
Marburger saw this and said to herself, “I have to do this. I can’t let this happen after what happened in
She realized that she was more qualified for the position than she originally thought.
“Basically what a mayor does in a small borough like Bellevue is manage police and make a budget,” Marburger said.
Having spent three years in banking, working to financially help people in low to moderate income areas, she gained experience in this field. She also graduated from Point Park University in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication and applied history, then went on to earn her MBA in 2012.
“I was just looking at the responsibilities and I thought, ‘Wow, I can do that,” Marburger said.
That is when she began the process to run for mayor by collecting signatures of residents within her party. For a person to get their name on the ballot in a small town like Bellevue, they only need 10 signatures, Marburger said. On Mar. 7, she submitted her petition to the elections office downtown, and she was officially a running candidate.
Since then, she has been taking a grassroots approach to reaching out to the community.
“I meet people for coffee. I do a lot of door knocking. I just had a meet and greet at someone’s house on Sunday. I have been getting a lot of ideas from these people,” Marburger said. “It’s been really positive.”
If elected mayor, Marburger hopes to create a more engaged and transparent local government.
“Before November, I always considered myself as a part of the Pittsburgh community as opposed to the Bellevue community,” Marburger said. “I think that one of the things that the election did was make me look more local and more focused on things… not just put my interest on national issues.”
But no matter where she lives, she always considers herself a part of the Point Park community, which she said undoubtedly prepared her for where she is today.
“Point Park has provided me with this wonderful support network,” she said. “I feel like I can go back to anyone at any time and still feel supported.”
Journalism professor Bill Moushey was one of the first people to comment on how awesome it was that she was running for mayor, she said. “He immediately asked, ‘Where can I donate?’”
Marburger said that Moushey’s passion for truth and justice left an impact on her, especially working in investigative journalism with the former Innocence Institute, directed by Moushey.
“That really put my focus on a broader world,” Marburger said. “Working on that, I think opened me up to different people’s lives and their circumstances. That was really motivating on how I approached life, really.”
Moushey grew up in a period of activism and sees young people like Marburger as “a breath of fresh air.”
“I got into journalism because I wanted to seek truth and also use the power of words,” Moushey said. “And to see that rub off on my students is why I do what I do…I support her one hundred percent.”
He supports her just like Dottie from Indiana, Linda from Florida, Sherry from Texas and many others, from her square-mile town of nearly 8,000 to all around the nation.
“They are what is inspiring,” Marburger said. “They are keeping me going.”