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Your Comprehensive 2015 State College Election Guide

If you’ve tuned in to any major news network in the past few months, you already know that it’s election season.

Even more so, today’s Election Day, and there are plenty of notable races on the ballot in State College.

Whether you’re well-versed in the 2015 election and want a quick refresher or need to do some last-minute cramming before heading into the booth, we have you covered with our comprehensive election guide.

Because local government has a more immediate and recognizable impact on life in the borough, we’ll start with the candidates for borough council and school board before moving on to the county and state ballots.

If you just want to know when and where you’re supposed to vote, scroll down to the bottom.


State College Borough Council

The Candidates:

Catherine Dauler (Democrat/Republican — incumbent): Dauler was a member of council from 2000 to 2008 and is currently serving a three-year term that started in 2012. She’s one of the more quiet members of council, but has a proven record that focuses on neighborhood preservation, fiscal responsibility, and sustainability.

Jesse Barlow (Democrat): Barlow is a Penn State professor and stresses fiscal responsibility and regional cooperation in his platform. He’s originally from Kansas, but moved to the State College area in 1981. He currently serves on the State College Community Land Trust board and raised two children in the area, one of whom currently studies at Penn State.

Janet Engeman (Democrat): If you’ve attended a State College borough council meeting, you’ve likely seen Janet Engeman. She’s been a vocal borough resident for years, and makes her way to the podium to voice her opinion on municipal issues at just about every meeting. Engeman came to the realization that she could continue being one of the “gadflies” that constantly addresses council, or she could alternatively earn herself a seat on that very same council to become one of the decision makers instead.

David J. Brown (Democrat): Brown and his wife Laura have been borough residents for over 35 years, working in town and raising a family here. Brown retired from his clinical practice as a psychiatrist in 2014 and wants to devote his newfound free time to helping the borough. Brown’s platform stresses comprehensive development instead of piecemeal rezoning, collaboration, sustainability, and civility.

Ron Madrid (Republican): You might recognize the name from his mayoral bid against Elizabeth Goreham in 2013. Madrid is a retired U.S. Marine who has lived in State College for 20 years. He’s served on a number of borough commissions, including the Planning Commission for eight years, where he was the chair. Madrid has also been the president of the Holmes-Foster Neighborhood Association for the last nine years. He’s the lone Republican candidate for council, and is stressing bipartisanship as part of his campaign.

There are four open seats that the five candidates are vying for.


State College School Board

The Candidates:

Amber Concepcion (Democrat/Republican — incumbent): Concepcion is the current president of the school board. She graduated from State College High School in 1997 and attended the Penn State Schreyer Honors College. Her platform stresses preserving the borad academic strength of the district, investing resources wisely, and preparing students to compete in the modern economy.

Laurel Zydney (Democrat/Republican — incumbent): Zydney is running for reelection as a school board member. According to her campaign website, she’s “dedicated to outstanding schools through careful planning, innovative approaches, and community involvement.” She brings experience in school-based managment and strategic planning to the board.

Daniel Duffy (Democrat/Republican): Duffy is a retired public school educator who wants to serve the community as a member of the school district board. His platform includes responsible fiscal decision-making, open communication between home and school, and transparency.

Amy Bader (Democrat/Republican): Bader has been a volunteer with the “Friends of State High” group. She learned about the challenges facing the district when she helped canvass and distribute information, and sees the biggest issues as numerous buildings in need of renovation, fluctuating state budget allocations, and changing educational requirements.

Gretchen Brandt (Democrat/Republican): Last summer, candidate Gretchen Brandt helped spread the word about the high school renovation project by volunteering her time with the “Friends of State High” advocacy group, which sparked her interest in helping the district. With a degree in public administration and experience working in municipal government, Brandt feels she’s well-prepared to serve the voters of State College on the school board.

There are five open seats and five candidates in this race. Barring a surprise write-in push, the above five candidates will be voted in.


County Races

Court Of Common Pleas Judges:

Katie Oliver (Democrat) vs. Ron McGlaughlin (Republican)
These two candidates are vying to replace judge Bradley Lunsford, who announced his withdrawal for retention and retirement, which will take place when his term ends in January. Read’s profile of the two judge candidates and their bids to restore faith in the Centre County court system.

Commissioners (three open seats):

Michael Pipe (Democrat — incumbent)

Mark Higgins (Democrat)

Steve Dershem (Republican — incumbent)

Chris Exarchos (Republican — incumbent)

Todd Kirsten (Independent)

Check out our two-part series breaking down the county commissioner election. We started with a look at economic issues and planning within the county. The second part addresses the ongoing lawsuits and legal challenges in the county, a major source on conflict within the Bellefonte courthouse. Get to know all five candidates.

The Rest:

Controller (one): Chuck Witmer (Republican — incumbent, unopposed)

Sheriff (one): Matthew Rickard (Democrat) vs. Bryan Sampsel (Republican)

Treasurer (one): Richard Fornicola (Republican — incumbent, unopposed)

Prothonotary (one): Debra Immel (Democrat — incumbent, unopposed)

Recorder of Deeds (one): Georgiann Bennett (Democrat) vs. Joseph Davidson (Republican — incumbent)

Register of Wills (one): Amanda McCartney (Democrat) vs. Christine Millinder (Republican)

Coroner (one): Scott Sayers (Democrat — incumbent, unopposed)


State Races

Supreme Court Justices (three open seats):

David Wecht (Democrat)

Kevin Dougherty (Democrat)

Christine Donohue (Democrat)

Judy Olson (Republican)

Mike George (Republican)

Anne Covey (Republican)

Paul Panepinto (Independent Judicial Alliance)


Superior Court Judges (one): Alice Beck Dubow (Democrat) vs. Emil Giordano (Republican)

Commonwealth Court Judges (one): Michael Wojcik (Democrat) vs. Paul Lalley (Republican)

Where To Vote

As long as you know your first and last name and date of birth, the Centre County elections website can tell you where your polling place is located.

When To Vote

Polling locations are open between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. As always, expect the lines to get long during “rush hour” as people get off work and head straight to the polls.

How To Vote

As long as you made it through Kindergarten and know how to color inside the lines, you can fill in the bubbles on the ballot. Here’s a look at a sample State College ballot for an idea of what you’ll be dealing with in the booth today.

As for the rules, you can’t discuss political subjects within the polling place. There is no campaigning allowed within 10 feet of a polling location’s entrance.

Approach the designated table for your name, present a form of identification if requested, and sign the poll book. If your address is listed incorrectly, you can use a voter registration form to change it and will still be eligible to vote. Fill in the bubbles, tear off the stub for your records, hand in your ballot, and proudly wear your “I Voted” sticker.

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About the Author

Zach Berger

Zach Berger is a reporter and Onward State's Managing Editor Emeritus. You can find him at the Phyrst more nights than not. If he had to pick a last meal, Zach would go for a medium-rare New York strip steak with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and a cold BrewDog Punk IPA. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected] or on Twitter at @theZachBerger.

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