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13 State College Residents to Be Considered for Interim Borough Council Position

by on September 10, 2020 6:54 PM

Update: On Sept. 12, Katherine Watt withdrew from consideration for the vacant borough council position.

Original story:

At a special meeting on Thursday, State College Borough Council received the list of applicants for an open council seat and finalized the process and timeline moving forward.

Dan Murphy resigned from council on Aug. 17 and because the borough's home rule charter stipulates a vacancy must be filled within 45 days, the six remaining members have until 11:59 p.m. Oct. 1 to appoint a replacement. If the sitting members do not agree by then on a replacement to serve the remainder of Murphy's term — which ends on Jan. 1, 2022 — it becomes the decision of the Centre County Court of Common Pleas based on a petition by council or five residents of the borough.

State College's charter states only that council members must be qualified and registered voters in the borough. Council previously agreed on a process similar to the one used last year to to appoint an interim mayor when Don Hahn stepped down after being elected district judge.

Borough Council will hear five-minute presentations from each candidate during a public meeting beginning at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. Council will then make nominations and vote at a special meeting on Sept. 21. 

Applications were open to eligible residents until Tuesday.

Fourteen people submitted letters of interest. One lives just outside the borough and is not eligible.

The remaining 13 candidates are:

Elle (Louise) Morgan 

Katherine Watt

Eric Boeldt

Jacob Werner

Oscar Jacob Baumert IV

Ron Madrid

Uche H. Ikwut-Ukwa

Ezra Nanes

Daniel Risser

Katherine Oh Yeaple

Mel White

Jeffrey R. Kern

Thomas Dougherty III

Risser and White are not currently registered to vote in the borough, but council determined both can remain in consideration until a vote is taken, at which point they would need to be registered in the borough to be eligible for the position. Council President Jesse Barlow said Risser had been registered in another municipality and has already applied to register in State College.

"Individual council members could certainly make decisions based on their own individual preferences and opinions, but the candidates, if they become registered before council votes to appoint, they would be qualified and registered voters and eligible for appointment," Borough Manager Tom Fountaine said. "At the point where council votes to appoint, they must be a qualified and registered voter."

Each of the candidates will be sent a list of questions that were submitted by council members and members of the public. Candidates  can then incorporate answers to any questions they choose into their statements on Tuesday night.

Council debated the merit of several questions posed by the public but ultimately decided to forward the entire list to candidates.

"I would like to see how people who want to be council members either respond or not," Councilman Evan Myers said. "Depending on how they answer the questions or which questions they choose to answer will inform my decision as to who I would support and not for this council position. I have no problem with putting them all out there."

Each of the questions is included in the agenda from Thursday's meeting.

During Monday night's regular meeting, candidates names will be drawn at random to determine the order they will present on Tuesday.

At the Sept. 21 meeting, council members' names will be drawn at random to determine the order that nominations will be made. Each council member will be able to make a nomination. Council will then vote on nominations in the order they were made and the first candidate to receive four votes will be appointed to the position. 

Once a nominee receives four yes votes, no further votes will be taken. If each of the candidates is voted on and none receive four yes votes, the nomination and voting process will start over again.

 



Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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