The powerhouse known as Julia Fahl was born in Red Bank, New Jersey. Fahl currently serves as the Mayor of Lambertville, NJ, after defeating her opponent Mr. Dave DeVechio in 2018, who had been the mayor for 27 years.
Fahl graduated from Bryn Mawr College, and majored in political science. In 2017 she served as the in-state Finance Director for Phil Murphy, who is now the governor of New Jersey. Fahl also served as the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT Leadership Council Director. Her wife, Kari Osmond is no stranger to politics either. Osmond served as the Chief of Staff to current Trenton, New Jersey Mayor Reed Gusciora when he served as the 15th District State legislator in the General Assembly.
When asked about her decision to run for office, Fahl said, “It was very clear to me and my wife that there was a need for change. Lambertville has one of the strongest mayorships in New Jersey. The former mayor had been entrenched in that system for some time. We actually asked a lot of people to run—before I decided to do it myself.”
Once the decision was made to run, Fahl decided to do things the old-fashioned way by knocking door-to-door and handing out hundreds of lawn signs. Fahl’s door-to-door knocking campaign paid off. She won with 55% of the votes.
“It was an uphill battle. We spent a lot of time talking to different stakeholders, knocking on doors, we did about 12 house parties where neighbors would invite their friends. And they would rapid-fire ask questions.” Fahl went on to explain what she called “Mayor School” the rigorous self-made training course that not only prepared her for office, but it also nabbed her the top office in town. During the campaign, Fahl invited other mayors, contractors, business administrators and interviewed for several hours at a time.
“There’s a closed feedback loop between me and my constituency. I still make sure that I’m out and knocking on doors, even though I’m not running for election again—yet. So, I’m trying actively to save myself from that complacency. I was so eager to fix problems in the beginning of my mayorship. Instead of just saying I’m going to look into it, I said I’m going to fix that.”
“A mayorship is the closest representative in government that you have. There is no government closer to you than your municipal government,” Fahl said about her relationship to the people of Lambertville. “People know where I live. They know where I get my morning coffee. It’s really important for me to remember that sometimes what I see as a priority isn’t what everybody else’s is. We’ve doubled the amount of council meetings, and even created office hours that work for me as well as the constituents.” Fahl even makes her cellphone number accessible to her constituents.
When asked about the openly gay presidential hopeful “Mayor Pete” [Buttigieg]. Fahl said, “I do think that there’s a value to the experience of being mayor especially because it’s so local. You have to worry about everybody’s trash getting picked up, everyone’s toilets flushing, and even the potholes getting smoothed over. The basis of how America functions is through a mayor’s office.”
Discussing current events, Fahl said, “We’re the only generation that has had to live with mass shootings as a normal part of everyday life. We have to be the generation that acknowledges and stops it from being a reality.”
When asked about Donald Trump, Fahl feels this was something that she couldn’t have imagined to be an actual reality. “It was a really interesting time in the world. I imagined that in my lifetime there would never be full federal legal marriage. At the time we had lost every election and it’s only been 10 years. For people to believe that this still wouldn’t be a struggle is foolish.” Julia and Kari have done a lot to protect themselves legally when they got married. They assumed that LGBTQ people’s fundamental rights might be challenged in the years to come.
“I assume over the course of my lifetime that this will be a battle to fight,” said Fahl. “The best thing that we can do is to put more gay people in office, transgender people in office, and people of color in office. The best thing that we can do is to keep running for office to ensure that decisions like this don’t get made anymore.”
So, what is she doing specifically for the LGBTQ community of Lambertville? “I hold the highest elected office in my town,” said Fahl. “I’m visible in my town. I’m OUT in my town, and It’s the gayest town in New Jersey. (Laughs.) “Come at me, Asbury.”
Mayor Fahl is an inspiration. She’s an out lesbian, she’s under 30, and she’s mayor.