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Ten Questions With Interim Mayor Of State College Ronald Filippelli

Ronald Filippelli was recently sworn in as the interim mayor of State College to fill in for the remaining two years of Donald Hahn’s four-year term. Since then, the Penn State professor emeritus been busy working on a slate of new initiatives, including implementing a comprehensive housing policy for the Borough.

Despite his busy schedule, Filippelli took some time this week to answer our questions about himself and all things State College.

Onward State: You have extensive experience as a local representative, and are familiar with the Borough’s unique culture and the problems it faces. How did you experience inform your decision to be considered for the position of interim mayor?

RF: I thought that my experience would make it easier for me to take on the responsibilities for two years, and cause less disruption to the Borough.

OS: You said during the appointment process that the biggest problem State College faces is its lack of affordable housing. How will you address that problem, and what changes would you like to see before the end of your term?

RF: I hope to work with the planning office, the Borough Council, the State College Community Land Trust, and Housing Transitions to craft a comprehensive housing policy for the Borough.

OS: You were adamant that you would not seek reelection after this interim term. In your opinion, why should an interim, appointed mayor remove him/herself from the running?

RF: An incumbent interim mayor who is appointed but not elected would have a great, and unfair, advantage in an election. 

OS: You also mentioned the need to improve communication and coordination between Borough officials, residents, and the student community. How can this problem be addressed?

RF: By attending as many community meetings and events as possible and being as transparent as possible. And by carrying community concerns back to Borough Council.

OS: When you addressed council in December, you described the position of mayor as that of a “salesperson” to the Borough, especially pertaining to communities of color. From your perspective, what’s the importance of having a diverse Borough community and how can State College progress towards it?

RF: The USA is a diverse community and will be more so in the future.  If State College wants to compete in the economy of the future, it will have to be more diverse. Much of the responsibility for accomplishing this goal, lies with Penn State, but the Centre Region will have to be a welcoming partner.

OS: What do you miss most about your time as a professor at Penn State?

RF: Regular interaction with students.

OS: How does the Filippelli Institute for e-education at Penn State reflect your values as an academic?

RF: I am for reinforcing democracy wherever possible. On-line education makes Penn State available to students who might never be able to attend as residential students.  This can only contribute to a broader and more educated population.  That is good for democracy.

OS: What’s your tavorite flavor of Creamery ice cream?

RF: Raspberry frozen yogurt.

OS: Who has been the biggest inspiration throughout your career?

RF: My parents.

OS: You recently declared State College the City of THON throughout this weekend. What does THON mean not just to Penn State, but the greater State College community?

RF: THON is signature event that takes the best qualities of Penn State and State College to a national audience in a marvelous cause.  What could be better than that?

OS: Finally, as per Onward State tradition, if you could be a dinosaur which one would you be and why?

RF: I am an equal dinosaur guy. I miss them all.

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About the Author

Rory Pelella

Rory is a senior from Binghamton, New York majoring in Spanish and journalism. She's been bleeding blue and white ever since her older siblings decided to create a family dynasty in Happy Valley in 2006. So, as you can imagine, she loves absolutely everything Penn State (especially the Cheese Shoppe downtown). She's also a die-hard Yankees, Knicks, and Giants fan (it's brutal), and would do anything for a good old fashioned New York slice. Feel free to email her at [email protected] or follow her on twitter @rorypelella.

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