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Elliott Killian: Student by Day, Politician by Night

Balancing classes and a social life can be difficult for most students. For Elliott Killian, that’s nothing. In addition to balancing classes, study time, and a personal life, Killian has been the Ferguson Township Supervisor for the 3rd Ward of the township since 2011, when he was elected as a 19 year old.

The most difficult part for Killian wasn’t getting elected at such a young age. His father had served as supervisor previously, and when his term limit was up, Killian ran unopposed, following in his father’s footsteps. It was perfectly legal for him to be elected at such a young age, but the real problem was rooted in the township’s home rule charter, which made it illegal for someone to officially take office until they were 21.

“My parents were kind of skeptical at first, but once I got them on my side they ended up becoming my campaign managers,” Killian said.

With no competition on the ballot, he spent most of his time during the campaign season working to change the minimum age required to hold office to 19, with the requirement that the candidate has been registered to vote in Ferguson Township for one year. Killian fit the requirements, and on November 8, 2011, the referendum passed by a slim margin gaining 52 percent of the votes.

Killian was now an elected official at 19, but he was still a full-time student at Penn State. Juggling his classes and duties as township supervisor wasn’t easy, but Killian has a good grip on what it takes to be successful at both.

Throughout the course of a month, he is required to attend two meetings for Ferguson Township, and separate meetings for other local committees. He is also on the boards of the Centre Region Council of Governments and is the Vice Chair of the Spring Creek Watershed Commission. Not bad for someone who is still in school.

While that is certainly a daunting task to juggle all of the duties associated with both of his roles, Killian admits that the workload comes and goes with each responsibility.

“I’ve noticed it kind of goes in cycles,” Killian added. “Right now I’m focusing on school with term papers, but this week was pretty crazy with four meetings  for the township on top of three lab reports for school.”

Killian has also gained a fantastic education through experiences he’s had while serving as supervisor. With the township’s need for a new garbage contract coming up, he plans on giving the residents the ability to put organics on their curb with their garbage to be picked up for composting. State College borough already affords residents this ability, but Killian plans on expanding it to his part of Centre County.

His work isn’t just confined to Ferguson Township. Killian hopes to create a regional food truck system, but admits that it will involve a lot of people to take hold. Although this might be driven in part by Killian’s horticulture major, the idea may have some legs, especially if State College buys in.

After making it halfway through his term, Killian has already made it clear that he would not seek reelection. His future is open after his term, but he has a general idea of what he plans to do.

“I would like to open a business,” Killian said. “I thought I would get into mushrooms before, but now I’m leaning towards food packaging.”

About the Author

Ted Hozza

Ted is a senior majoring in Community, the Environment, and Development, or as his friends here at Onward State like to call it, Architecture. You can probably find him at the Phyrst late at night with other Onward Staters if he's not somewhere else editing articles. You can follow him on Twitter @TedHozza or email him at [email protected]

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