Contact: Mark Brazaitis
WVU English Professor Announces Candidacy for Morgantown City Council
February 6, 2017—Mark Brazaitis, a WVU English professor and the author of seven books, announced today he will run for a position on the Morgantown City Council from the sixth ward.
“We have a wonderful city,” Brazaitis said. “But we have challenges now and ahead, and we could be doing much better.”
Brazaitis is running on a campaign to protect and enhance Morgantown’s small- and medium-sized businesses, its parks, recreation areas, and green spaces, its roads and bridges, and its distinct neighborhoods, including downtown.
“We are a growing city, which presents obstacles as well as opportunities,” he said. “We must ensure that we grow in a smart, thoughtful way—a way that respects the health, safety, and prosperity of the people who live here, including families, as well as offering newcomers a dynamic and welcome place to live.”
In addition to being a professor and author, Brazaitis coaches four girls’ basketball teams at North Elementary School, co-directs a learn-to-skate program at the Morgantown Ice Arena, and is a founding member of the Appalachian Prison Book Project, which has sent more than 17,000 books to imprisoned women and men in six Appalachian states. “I believe in the power of education to redirect lives,” he says. “A book is a pathway to progress.”
Brazaitis is helping lead the effort to save the Haymaker Forest, a .5-square-mile woods behind the Circle K on Dorsey Avenue and extending to upper South Park. “Green spaces are gold,” he said. “Even on the local level, they’re a regulator of extreme temperatures and weather events associated with climate change. Woods and forests can also be deeply spiritual places for families and individuals. And they’re a huge economic benefit to cities.”
At WVU, Brazaitis has served on the Faculty Senate and was a spokesperson for Mountaineers for Integrity and Responsibility (MIR), which worked to restore WVU’s reputation in the wake of degree scandal in 2008. He is a former Peace Corps Volunteer and technical trainer, having served in Guatemala. His books include The River of Lost Voices: Stories from Guatemala, which won the 1998 Iowa Short Fiction Award, and The Incurables, which won the Richard Sullivan Prize from the University of Notre Dame Press and was featured on the nationally syndicated Diane Rehm Show.
He is married to Julie Penn, and they have two daughters, Annabel and Rebecca, both students at Morgantown High School.