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Get To Know State College’s 13 Candidates For Interim Mayor

State College Borough Council is evaluating 13 interim mayoral candidates who are interested in taking the place of former State College mayor Don Hahn who officially resigned from his position after being elected Magisterial District Judge on November 5.

The candidates were announced at Council’s work session last week after the interested individuals submitted letters of interest. Among them are former Borough Council presidents, former mayoral candidates, Penn State professors, and current Penn State students.

The exact selection process and criteria remains up in there and will be discussed once again tonight at Council’s meeting, but here’s what you need to know about each being considered.

Thomas Daubert

Daubert served on Borough Council for 24 years and was its president for a total of six of those years during three separate stints. He was first elected to Council in 1992. His final tenure ended in 2018.

A former professor in the Penn State College of Engineering, Daubert oversaw the planning of the Borough’s municipal building and has served on several boards, commissions, and in regional government positions. He has served as chair of the Centre Region Council of Governments, and is currently a member of the Borough’s Board of Health.

Eleanor L. Schiff

Schiff earned her Ph.D in political science in 2017 and an MBA from Penn State. She is currently a visiting assistant professor of political science at Bucknell, but has also held associate teaching positions at Penn State and Dickinson College. She writes primarily on educational policy and policy making.

Schiff has also worked as an assistant on the President’s domestic policy team in the White House, and as deputy director of the secretary of education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education.

Ronald L. Filippelli

Filippelli, another former Borough Council president who served in the position for almost a decade, is also the founder of Penn State’s Filippelli Institute for e-Education and Outreach in the College of the Liberal Arts. He is also a former professor of labor and employment relations at Penn State.

Filippelli was elected to Council in 2006 and was elected president of Council by his colleagues in 2010 following former mayor Elizabeth Goreham’s term in the position, according to Council meeting minutes.

Ron Madrid

Madrid ran against Hahn and Michael Black as an independent in the 2017 mayoral election. He is a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, and also ran as a Republican against former Mayor Elizabeth Goreham in 2013.

Madrid has also served as the director of the Penn State Applied Research Laboratory and president of the Holmes-Foster Neighborhood Association. Madrid is a former chair and current member of the State College Borough Planning Commission.

Isabella Webster

Webster is a senior at Penn State studying security and risk analysis. She served as the executive director of Penn State Homecoming 2019, and is the College of IST’s UPUA representative as well as the student government representative to the Faculty Senate.

Webster is one of two Penn State students on the mayoral candidate list alongside Tom Dougherty.

Jamey Darnell

Darnell is a clinical assistant professor of entrepreneurship and an assistant clinical professor of entrepreneurship at the Smeal College of Business.

Darnell began teaching at Penn State in 2018 after stints at a host of other universities, including Barton College, the College of Central Florida, and the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee.

Jacob R. Werner

Werner is an assistant professor of veterinary medicine and dairy and animal science at Penn State.

He joined the Penn State staff in 2003 after earning his bachelor’s degree in animal science at Penn State and earning his doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Pennsylvania. Werner is a member of the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care Council.

Katherine Watt

Watt ran for one of two vacant Borough Council seats in the November 5 Municipal General Election as an independent, but lost to Jesse Barlow, Janet Engeman, Deanna Behring, and Peter Marshall.

Watt is an environmentally-focused independent journalist and publisher, community organizer, and paralegal. She has also worked on local environmental campaigns like the Spring Creek Homesteading Fund.

Ezra Nanes

Nanes is the director of client relations at Accuweather. He lost to five-term incumbent Jake Corman in the 2018 Senate election.

The 2018 election was Nanes’ first political campaign, in which he focused specifically on education and healthcare issues. He earned an MBA from Penn State in 2012.

James Leous

Leous is a member of the State College Area School District Board of Directors. He was first elected to the position in 2009 and served multiple terms as the Board’s vice president.

Leous earned a master’s degree in astronomy and astrophysics from Penn State in 1991. He is currently a manager and research programmer in Penn State’s College of Information Technology Services.

Jason Browne

Browne works as a system administrator at Penn State, is a morning show co-host at 7 Mountains Media, and is a member of the leadership of the State College Rotary Club.

Browne earned an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and master’s degree from Penn State, completing the latter in 2015.

Michael Black

Another 2017 mayoral election candidate, Black ran against Madrid and Hahn as a Republican after moving to State College as a graduate student in 1991.

He owns Black Sun Studio, a creative agency in downtown State College. Black has been involved in several local organizations, including the Penn State Budget Committee, Leadership Centre County, and the Penn State Center for World in Conversation.

Thomas J. Dougherty, III

Dougherty, a junior at Penn State, was formerly the Interfraternity Council’s UPUA representative and a Borough Council candidate.

Dougherty ran for Borough Council in the November 5 election as a Republican after failing to win a Democratic nomination in the May municipal primary, but did not secure a seat.


Council will continue the mayoral selection process at its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, November 18 in Council Chambers.

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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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