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Failed Agricultural Trustee Candidate Sues Penn State

A “Friend of Penn State” is now suing, well, Penn State.

Jess Stairs, a former Pennsylvania state representative, filed a lawsuit against the university as well as trustees Keith Masser and Betsy Huber. The two defendants defeated Stairs in the private election for two trustee spots recognizing agricultural interests, which was held by the state agricultural societies around the same time as the alumni trustee election in May. The official tally has Masser with 124 votes, Huber with 89, and Stairs losing by a single vote with 88, although Stairs is alleging  impropriety with the vote count.

Specifically, Stairs’ lawsuit claims that the three votes by the Venango County agricultural delegation were improperly cast for Huber. Rules stipulate that counties represented by more than three delegates — Venango had six — must hold a caucus to determine how their votes will be split. Stairs claims that no such caucus was held, and that if the correct process was followed, he would have overtaken Huber for the final seat.

“The University believes that Mr. Stairs’ allegations are without merit,” university spokeswoman Lisa Powers said in a statement. “The University is very disappointed that Mr. Stairs has chosen this course of action and that it will be required to devote University resources to defending this litigation. Because this matter now is the subject of pending litigation, the University will have no further public comment.”

Huber has been a member of the Board since 2005 and Masser, the current Chair, since 2008. The timetable for ruling on the lawsuit is unknown, but it is safe to say both of them will be in their seats on Thursday and Friday for the Board of Trustees meetings at Penn State Schuylkill.

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About the Author

Kevin Horne

Kevin Horne was the editor of Onward State from 2012-2014 and currently holds the position of Managing Editor Emeritus, which is a fake title he made up. He graduated from Penn State with degrees journalism and political science in 2014 and is currently seeking his J.D. at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. A third generation Penn Stater from Williamsport, Pa., Kevin is also the president of the graduate student government. Email: [email protected]

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