If you look on the white walls of Ron Madrid’s small office tucked away in Applied Research Building, you’ll see framed paraphernalia from his time in the Marine Corps. The former Marine, now a director in the lab, wants to bring a lifetime of experiences to the role of mayor.
Madrid declared his independent candidacy after the municipal primary in May, when he wasn’t satisfied with the slated candidates and thought he would be the best person for the job. He also ran for mayor three years ago on the Republican ticket against incumbent and current mayor Elizabeth Goreham, but lost the race.
In addition to his experience on the Borough Planning Commission and Real Estate Advisory Committee, Madrid has served as president of the Holmes Foster Neighborhood Association for the past 12 years, which he says has allowed him to understand the various issues the Borough and its residents face.
“You have to know the issues, know the environment, and know the people to be an effective mayor,” Madrid said, “and I do.”
Madrid emphasizes the two main duties of mayor are to officiate Borough Council meetings and to represent the Borough — not to legislate. He says Council meetings are currently very poorly run and it’s an issue that the current procedure manual doesn’t allow members to respond or ask questions when someone speaks during the public hour.
“As mayor, if no one else will say something, I will,” he said. Madrid is confident in his ability to act as a spokesperson for the Borough because he understands the issues and how the Borough functions as a whole.
With four children who all attended Penn State, Madrid is no stranger to the issues students face in the Borough, either, including student housing and run-ins with the State College Police Department, he said with a chuckle. He currently sits on the Zoning Rewrite Commission, but won’t start his work until after the election.
Madrid said his two main goals if elected are to improve how Borough Council meetings are officiated (ensuring all residents are treated with respect and their concerns are heard) and eliminating the perception of “us vs. them” between long-term residents and students.
“I can appreciate the viewpoints — and, at times, frustration — of residents of the Borough who attend Penn State,” Madrid said, careful not to use the word ‘students.’ “If you have an opinion, it’s time to make it known.”
This is the second in a three-part series profiling the candidates for State College mayor. Election Day is Tuesday, November 7.