State College Borough Candidates Discuss Penn State and Federal Budget Cuts During ‘Meet the Candidates’


Democrat candidates for the State College Borough Council discussed collaborating with Penn State and dealing with Federal budget cuts in a ‘Meet the Candidate’ event hosted by the Women’s Voter League in Center County.

All six democratic candidates for the State College borough municipal primary participated in the debate including Penn State undergraduate student Rylie Cooper, Penn State graduate student Marina Cotarelo, Theresa Lafer, Steven Mower, Dan Murphy and Evan Myers. The Republican candidate is running unopposed and was not invited to participate by the League.

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Candidates were asked six questions submitted by the audience. Each question was to be answered in 60 seconds, with candidates given an additional 90 seconds at the end of the debate to make concluding statements.

The first question of the evening asked candidates how Penn State affects State College’s success directly and indirectly.  All the candidates stated the need for Penn State and State College council to collaborate and work together on issues. Cotarelo said that the “borough almost needs to get up to speed with them [Penn State], work with them and collaborate more”.  Lafer said Penn State and State College were “separate institutions but one community”  but there is a need for the borough to be as inclusive as Penn State in terms of accepting diversity.

Student and community engagement in Borough Council affairs was addressed in the next question.  Penn State student and the only undergraduate student running for borough council, Rylie Cooper spoke of need for more conversations to take place between students and the council. Students and towns people often appeared to be polarized on issues stated Cooper but that “ultimately the mission is the same when you listen to one another”.  More conversations, said Cooper could decrease the divisions students and towns people feel between one another.

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Similarly Murphy wanted to create more dialogue within the community, although not particularly with students.  A renter himself, Murphy said it was important the council have conversations with renters in the borough area especially as housing prices become more expensive.

Asked about growth and the council budget some candidates acknowledged that serious changes needed to be made. Myers said that Trump’s federal budget cuts were ‘ draconian’ in nature to boroughs like State College. Money needed to be shifted around within the budget in order to stop burdening residents with high taxes said Murphy which after Federal government budget cuts will become the primary source of income for the borough.

Cooper suggested collaborating with students and adopting alternative systems to increase council income.  “Extending the borough’s tax base by encouraging students to file their tax returns in State College and lobbying for a tax on alcohol would provide new sources of revenue for the borough,” said Cooper.

Additionally, Mower stated that the borough should develop a partnership with Penn State to leverage Harrisburg for additional funding. Partnering with Penn State, Mower said, would give the borough the tools it needed from Harrisburg to develop an income stream and ease the burden on residents.

The municipal primary for the State College Democrat candidate will take place on May 16.  Voter registration for the election closes on May 18.  For further information on the municipal primary visit the Center County government website.

Photo Credit: Chris Velez | The Underground 

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Caitriona Pearson

Caitriona Pearson is a junior economics and political science major from Napier, New Zealand. She enjoys writing about current affairs and politics, particularly from an international perspective. You can find her on twitter @caitrionapear or you can email her at caitriona@undergroundvoices.co