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Penn State Student Leaders Launch 'BugPAC' to Help Elect Endorsed Candidates for Borough Council, Mayor

by on March 22, 2017 5:00 AM

Penn State student leaders Terry Ford and Kevin Horne launched the student-focused local political action committee BugPAC Tuesday night in the HUB-Robeson with a rally for students to hear from their endorsed mayoral candidate Michael Black and borough council member seeking re-election Evan Myers.

Horne, the president of the Graduate and Professional Student Association, and Ford, president of the University Park Undergraduate Association, introduced the initiative which they said seeks to reclaim State College for student interests. Students, they said, represent 70 percent of the borough council’s constituency but feel ignored by much of the current borough council.

[Editor's note: Horne is editor emeritus of the student-run OnwardState.com, which is owned by StateCollege.com parent company Lazerpro Digital Media.]

“Dozens of student leaders from a diverse range of organizations have been working diligently over the past year to find pro-student candidates to run for borough council who would represent the interests of all residents, regardless of your student status,” Horne said. “We’ve endorsed four great candidates who we believe will take this town and take the Borough to new heights.”

In addition to Black, a local business owner, and Myers, BugPAC has also endorsed for council graduate student and current GPSA Vice President Marina Cotarelo and Penn State Director of Student Orientation and Transition Programs Dan Murphy.

“Us ‘bugs’ have had enough,” Horne said, referencing the campaign’s name that comes from an offhand comment made by current borough councilwoman Theresa Lafer, who said students would coalesce “like bugs” around lights if the borough installed them in downtown alleyways.

“No longer will our borough representatives be able to get away with calling students low-lifes, miscreants, drunks, and bugs and manage to keep getting elected over and over again,” Horne said. “We can transform this borough into a welcoming place for students and those long-term residents who appreciate the energy that students in college towns create.”

With the low voter turnout that occurs because many students have already left town by the time of the primary election, Ford said that electing BugPAC candidates is attainable if students register to vote in State College and request absentee ballots.

“The problem is that the primary is in May, when thousands of students leave the area and are not voting,” Ford said. “In what other town can elected officials continually insult 70 percent of their constituency and still get reelected year after year?”

Horne and Ford opened the floor to BugPAC endorsed mayoral candidate Michael Black, who moved to State College as a graduate student nearly 30 years ago and now owns a creative studio in State College. Black emphasized five core values important to him in his campaign — inclusivity, mindfullness, empathy, creativity, and vibrancy — but said the most critical asset in State College is talent.

“If we harness the people talent in this town, imagine what we can do,” Black said.

Borough council incumbent Evan Myers, a vice president at AccuWeather, explained his history coming to Penn State as a student and working in the student government at the time. “I’ve always felt that it’s important to give voice to everyone — homeowners AND students,” Myers said. Two of his children are currently students at Penn State.

Leading up to the primary election, BugPAC says it will continue to facilitate voting registration and absentee ballot requests.

The primary election is May 16.



Elissa Hill is an associate editor for Onward State.
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