This week marks an especially important local election for State College with what is arguably the first highly contested mayoral race since before town legend Bill Welch began his first term at the post in 1994. Following Welch’s death in 2009, current mayor Elizabeth Goreham filled his place on the ballot and ultimately won the election. Goreham, nearing the end of her second term, announced in February she would not run for re-election.
Three distinct candidates hope to capture the vote this Tuesday: Independent candidate Ron Madrid, Democratic nominee Don Hahn, and Republican nominee (but lifelong Democrat) Michael Black. Members of Onward State’s editorial board met with all three candidates to learn more about their respective backgrounds and platforms. Our staff read the notes from each meeting, debate recaps, and additional materials from each candidate before voting internally on which candidate to endorse.
While each candidate brings his own valuable experiences to the table, we believe Black’s diverse involvement in the Centre region and his desire to challenge the status quo in the Borough make him the best candidate to become the next mayor of State College.
Black hasn’t been directly involved in local government before. Instead, he’s been the boots on the ground to improve our community since he moved here as a graduate student in 1991 through his involvement in the Penn State Cross Cultural Health Program, the Graduate Student Organization, the Penn State Budget Committee, Leadership Centre County, the Penn State Center for World in Conversation, State College Little League, Centre Soccer, OLV HOOPS, Grow the Game, and SC AIR. He knows Penn State, and most importantly, he knows State College.
As we fulfill our mission to foster the student voice and enrich the Penn State experience, our staff values preserving the history and spirit of State College while propelling it into the future so it may continue to be the best place to — as Black would say — live, work, learn, and play, for generations to come. We feel Michael Black is the only candidate who understands the delicate balance between tradition and innovation that makes our home in Happy Valley so unique and so appealing to those who live here. He’s the best candidate to preserve what makes State College special and the best candidate to facilitate new growth and development.
Perhaps most important to our staff is Michael Black’s desire to challenge the status quo in State College. As we’ve seen this year through the creation of BugPAC, it’s time for a much-needed change in the leadership of State College. BugPAC leaders explained the organization was created out of frustration with the attitude of the current Borough Council and continued hope for an improvement in future leadership. We can’t help but agree that it’s time for a change — preferably a change that discourages Council members from likening students to bugs swarming around streetlights or expressing with utter astonishment that students aren’t “drunk and scary all the time.” Simply put, we’re sick of the same old shit.
Michael Black is new, he’s fresh, and he’s ready to lead State College to the next level.
Finally, one of Black’s key platform points is to widen the base of voices involved in our government. He wants to facilitate a community discussion about who we are and where want to go — and then translate that into action with a smart growth plan for the future of State College. In our editorial meetings with the candidates, Black was the only candidate to take any sort of interest in our editors’ perceptions of the Borough. The meeting felt more like a conversation about issues facing the Borough than it did a one-sided interview. This proved to us Black was genuine in his pledge to seek out and consider the opinions of all stakeholders when he considers how best to represent the Borough of State College.
He doesn’t just talk the talk — he walks the walk.
It is for the above reasons and more that Onward State offers Michael Black our official endorsement for State College mayor. We are confident in Black’s ability to lead the Borough to new heights by taking a broad spectrum of opinions into account to end the “same old, same old” culture State College has fallen victim to as of late.
Remember to vote in the local election on Tuesday, November 7. You can find your polling location here.