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Drunk, Sober, High: State College Mayoral Debate

This year’s State College mayoral election is as contested as they come with a tight race between Democratic nominee Don Hahn, lifelong Democrat but Republican nominee Michael Black, and independent candidate Ron Madrid.

As part of a series of public appearances leading up to the election, the three candidates debated Tuesday night at the State Theatre. Naturally, we sent three of our writers to the debate to experience it in three extremely different states of mind — drunk, sober, and high. These are their stories.


I’m going to be honest here — I had no clue what was going on at the beginning of this debate. I looked to my left to see if Sober or High could offer any support, but instead High was too busy playing on their phone and Sober was banging out work on their laptop so I felt as though I was all alone.

It wasn’t until the debate actually started that I fully realized how little I understood about what was happening. The candidates were talking about tax codes and and renovating downtown, and I thought downtown was just fine!

About 20 minutes into the debate, High and I started to exchange funny things that we wrote about the candidates, like “I thought Ron Madrid’s name was Real Madrid” and things like that.

As the debate drug on and my drunken stupor really began to set in, what the candidates were debating about began to make less and less sense. One thing I did take away, however, was that the moderator was absolutely terrible at her job.

The poor girl forgot to let the candidates rebut at one point, which drew snarky interceding remarks from the candidates on stage. Also, whenever the candidates were running over their time limit, instead of cutting them off, she would would make weird, uncomfortable noises until they stopped talking. I knew they had reached their time limit when a sweet boy in the front row would hold up an obnoxious yellow piece of paper which would soon coincide with the awkward noises of the moderator.

Could you imagine watching a presidential debate and hearing Anderson Cooper grunting, making half words, and fidgeting uncomfortably in his chair?

Me neither.

Ultimately, I think the mayoral debates are important events that students should go to as much as possible. However, if they want to understand anything that’s going on, I’d suggest that they don’t go under the influence. If you go drunk, I promise you will get bored and start Snapchatting within ten minutes.


I high key underestimated how boring this debate would be as I sat stone cold sober in the State Theatre. Oh, and they took my backpack. Normally I wouldn’t really care, but I stopped at Irving’s on the way to the debate and picked up a cookie for dinner that I planned to sneakily eat to keep myself occupied during the debate. I should’ve known better and shoved it in my pocket when I realized they were checking bags, but I didn’t figure out they were taking the backpacks to store for the duration of the debate until it was too late. Also, Irving’s has pretty big cookies, so it might’ve looked a little suspicious anyway.

Drunk showed up shortly after I did, but High hadn’t answered my text about getting in line to go in, so I was starting to get concerned. They moseyed in shortly after, and following the backpack debacle, we all found seats in the back of the auditorium. As soon as High said “wow this music sounds like a porno” I knew I was in for a fun night.

It was hard to focus on the candidates’ answers as seemingly every debate question was highly predictable, but High’s “whispered” commentary in my ear spiced up the night. At one point, High asked me, “What were the words he just said?” and I had my answer as to whether the other two knew what was going on in the debate. Certainly not.

Drunk was relatively calm throughout the whole experience, though I’ll admit I haven’t seen Drunk actually being sober very many times. Actually, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Drunk when they weren’t either drunk or hungover. Hmm.

Anyway, the debate was starting to get incredibly long, and about an hour in I looked over to see High zoning out and sending an email to one of their professors. I’ll admit I just let it happen, so I can’t vouch for the content of said email. At this point Drunk was doing that quintessential really drunk person thing where you lean your head back and your eyes are like halfway open but you don’t really know or care what’s going on.

I wasn’t surprised when approximately two minutes later High leaned over to tell me they were both too trashed to stick around and needed to get out of there. Frankly, I was Sober and I wanted to leave too, so I don’t blame them. They tried to “quietly” make an exit, but this is when High decided to drop a metal campaign button on the floor and let it rattle around as they “whispered” about going to get food. All’s well that ends well, I suppose.


I started off my drug fueled adventure by leaving my bike somewhere hidden near the State Theatre, eager to consume some political debate. Unaware of where Sober and Drunk would be meeting me because I managed to disable my phone for 20 minutes, I meandered aimlessly until stumbling across my inebriated/sober team.

Truth be told, I was quite interested in the debate. I love State College, and want to see some change come to the town in regards to the student-resident dynamic. I was especially interested in what candidate Michael Black — one of the more student-friendly candidates — had to say.
But I’m not here to make this political; I’m here to talk about how weed and local politics make an excellent combination.
I figured note taking would be the best way to remember each little detail — and I was right! Here are some fun highlights I compiled:

Calming jazz and overall good vibe — the music plying inside The State Theatre sounded like the intro to a porn

Dim lighting

Don Hahn says “Uhh” a lot

Black was the nittany lion for a WVB game

Drunk was all about the spirit of the debate

Someone cleared their throat in the middle of a Ron Madrid’s speech.

Wonders who’s doing the fact checking

I know how to solve walkability

As the debate continued, I couldn’t contain myself from commentating the debate to Sober, who appreciated some good political humor. Overall, I enjoyed myself, and feel confident in the candidate I’ll be voting for. As the high progressed, though, I began to feel more relaxed. That brings us to the conclusion of my debate evening.

Seeing as I hadn’t eaten in quite some time, I departed with Drunk to snag some food. We chose College Pizza as our Tuesday night eatery, and treated ourselves to the classic College Special. However, just prior to leaving, Drunk and I established an escape plan to prevent making much noise as we left — we’re courteous imbibers. As I stood up to leave, the pin Michael Black had given me when I entered the theatre dropped onto the ground, and rattled for a couple seconds. These couple seconds lasted an eternity, which is poetic.

Also, it took me about 20 minutes to find my bike. Go figure.

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