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State College Municipal Election Brings Diverse ‘Firsts’ To Borough

Although last week’s general election didn’t send a new president to the White House or shake up Washington, it did result in a few “firsts” for State College and Centre County.

Right off the bat, Democrat Ezra Nanes won an unopposed race to become State College’s next mayor. Nanes, a business development director at AccuWeather, will be the first Jewish person to serve as the borough’s mayor once his term begins in January.

“My election continues a tradition of electing mayors that represent and celebrate our rich diversity,” Nanes said in his declaration of victory last Thursday, “During my campaign, I made sure to place my Jewish heritage, and what it means to me, at the front and center of my story so that everyone had the opportunity to know me and to understand my motivations for seeking elected office.”

Nanes said he’s looking forward to sharing his heritage and finding “the common bonds of meaning and faith” among State College’s citizens.

Additionally, local voters helped elect a handful of progressive, first-time candidates to State College’s Borough Council. First up is Penn State law professor Gopal Balachandran, who will soon become the first Indian-American elected to the council. Additionally, adult Penn State student Divine Lipscomb will soon become the first formerly incarcerated person to serve on the council.

Lipscomb, whose platform championed increasing diversity and achieving racial justice and equity, said his idea to run for office came as he addressed a crowd during a State College protest over the summer.

“I remember making a statement on the mic when I was reading the demands for [the 3/20 Coalition]. And after I finished reading them, I thought, ‘If you don’t want to listen to us, maybe I’ll run for office myself,’” Lipscomb said last April.

Balachandran and Lipscomb will join Democrat Richard Biever on the Borough Council in January. The trio will replace Theresa Lafer and Evan Myers, who are both term-limited and can’t run again for two years. Katherine Yeaple left an empty seat when she didn’t advance out of May’s primary election.

This fall’s election results remain unofficial until they’re certified. With all precincts reporting, Balachandran, Lipscomb, and Beaver earned more than double the votes of Republican Jacob Werner, who was the fourth and final candidate on the Borough Council ballot.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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