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Murphy Resigns from State College Borough Council

by on August 17, 2020 8:27 PM

Dan Murphy has resigned from State College Borough Council with more than a year remaining in his term.

Murphy's resignation was effective as of the conclusion of Monday night's borough council meeting, where he announced the decision.

"On the night I was elected I said let’s get to work, and that work has given me the opportunity to get to know this community and those who live and work here better," Murphy said. "I will be forever grateful for the trust State College has placed in me.

"At the same time, that has taken an incredible toll on my physical and mental health, something I had not totally appreciated until the death of my father in May. I have always believed that our community deserves our best. I cannot apply that standard to others without applying it to myself. I believe the best thing I can do for State College right now is to step aside. My hope remains that this body continues to work toward shaping a more inclusive, equitable and just State College. I wish you the best in those continued efforts."

Murphy, the director of Student Orientation and Transition Programs at Penn State, was elected to council in 2017 alongside incumbents Evan Myers and Teresa Lafer. 

"From and personal and governmental standpoint I am sorry to see Dan Murphy leave," Myers said in an email after the meeting. "In many ways he was the conscience of council. He was a steady and reasoned advocate for the people of the borough, especially those who have been marginalized and forgotten. His strong voice in defense of justice and human rights will be missed. My wish is that his replacement carries on his legacy."

Campaigning in part on the idea that as a young professional and renter he would bring a fresh perspective to borough government, Murphy was the youngest member of council and sought to bring an inclusive viewpoint to his work. He is also the first openly gay member of State College Borough Council.

In June, he spearheaded a resolution that committed council to addressing a series of demands for police reforms, including formation of a community oversight board, in the wake of the 2019 fatal police shooting of Osaze Osage in State College and more recent local and nationwide movements.

"It has been an incredible opportunity and privilege to serve State College," Murphy said on Monday night. "With my resignation I know that I leave much unfinished. That would likely be just as true at the end of my term though this no doubt feels more abrupt."

"To my neighbors and friends, thank you for your support, encouragement and trust," he added. "I so wish I had the words to string together to share my thoughts on serving you these past few years, but words seem to reliably fail me as of late, so please know I did not come to this decision lightly. It may be tempting to view this decision strictly within the context of the current issues we face and I cannot fault you for that. But please know I have always appreciated your feedback, your attempts to hold me accountable and your advocacy."

According to the borough's home rule charter, council has 45 days to vote on a replacement, who will hold the position until Murphy's original term expires in January 2022.

No formal process is ascribed for how council chooses to fill a vacancy, other than that it is done by vote. The charter requires only that council members be qualified and registered voters of the borough.

Council President Jesse Barlow said he will discuss with Mayor Ron Filippelli and Borough Manager Tom Fountaine a possible procedure for selecting a replacement.

"I’m saddened to hear this news," Barlow said after Murphy's announcement. "I wish you all the good luck in the world and I hope you will consider public office at some time in the future again."

Filippelli and Fountaine echoed Barlow's sentiments.

"You will be sorely missed and good luck," Flippelli said. "I know you’re a busy man in many ways and have a lot of responsibilities on your shoulders."

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