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Eric Barron Pens Letter Condemning Potential Interim Mayor Selection Guidelines

Penn State President Eric Barron the State College Borough Council in a letter sent Monday to reject a recently proposed set of guidelines for selecting an interim mayor, according to Council Member Dan Murphy.

The guidelines, proposed last month by Council Member Catherine Dauler, outline potential qualifications that several members argue Council can use to evaluate candidates interested in replacing Mayor Don Hahn, who will run unopposed for the position of Magisterial District Judge in November 5’s general municipal elections. The list, which would ban active Penn State employees from being considered for the position if officially adopted, has sparked intense debate on topics ranging from discrimination to the efficacy of using guidelines to evaluate candidates.

The letter was addressed to Murphy, and called for Council to reject Dauler’s proposal.

“I find it deeply troubling to exclude someone based on their place of employment,” Barron wrote. “With about 17,000 Penn State employees living in the Borough of State College, such a narrowing of the talent pool might deny our community from considering some of the best qualified individuals.”

He went on to note that Penn State employees are permitted to and have served in local government — Murphy and fellow Council Member Jessie Barlow are both employed by the university. Barron also questioned the “strain” prohibiting a university employee from being chosen as Mayor could inflict on town-gown relations.

“Taking this action now would disenfranchise thousands of your citizens and our employees and send the wrong message about working together as one community,” he wrote. “In addition, by excluding Penn State employees, you will narrow the pool of diverse candidates significantly, and you will limit the number of applicants from communities of color.”

Barron also noted that the university’s Government and Community Relations and Ethics and Compliance teams were on hand to guide candidates for elected office, and noted that the Borough Solicitor, currently Terry Williams, could also provide direction.

Council will meet this Wednesday, November 6, at 12 p.m. to discuss and potentially vote on the proposed guidelines.

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About the Author

Jim Davidson

Jim is a junior English and history major and the features editor for Onward State. He, like most of the Penn State undergraduate population, is from 'just outside Philadelphia,' and grew up in Spring City, Pennsylvania. He covers a variety of Penn State topics, but spends nine months of every year waiting for the start of soccer season. You can reach him via email at [email protected] or follow him on twitter @messijim.

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