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State College Mayor's Race: Madrid Wants to Create Sense Of Unity Between Students and Residents

by on November 05, 2013 7:00 AM

Ron Madrid doesn't like to use the term "student." He says it creates a distance between those "adult residents who attend Penn State" and those who live permanently in the borough of State College.

Madrid (R) is running against incumbent Elizabeth Goreham for State College Mayor. One of the biggest problems in the borough, Madrid says, is the way students and borough residents are constantly at odds with one another.

"We need to treat [students] as adults with equal rights with same responsibilities," Madrid says. "Their problems are our problems."

The problems between students and residents arise annually, as every year new students come on, which is where the problems arise, Madrid says. The challenge is to engage students more directly as they come in every year.

"It's a question is continuance," Madrid says. "The issue changes every year as residents leave and some come in, which is where the ability for us to converse with them is. The dialogue is continuous."

Madrid uses the example of State Patty's Day. Madrid says most of the destruction that comes during the student created holiday comes not from students, but from visitors.

"If students want State Patty's Day they should make their case that it is a social event no worse than arts fest or a home football game," Madrid says. "[Students] should help police efforts so that it doesn't get out of hand."

Madrid says some people tend to overreact to the student activity in Beaver Canyon, which creates a stigma for future residents.

"We should take everything on how it is today, and quit painting them with the bad effects of yesterday," Madrid says.

Madrid's concern for the welfare of students isn't exactly part of his job description. While he does work for Penn State, he is the Director of the Office of Military and Security Programs at Penn State's Applied Research Laboratory – not exactly a student-oriented area of the university.

Ever since he moved to State College in 1995, Madrid has been involved in the community. He has been a member of the State College Historic Resources Commission and the Planning Commission, and has also served as the president of the Holmes-Foster Neighborhood Association.

Madrid says he is concerned with three aspects of the borough -- its public safety, public services and public solvency. Madrid is worried about a possible funding shortfall that the borough may face in the coming years if the issue of revenue isn't addressed.

"We have increasing tax base and revenues are either flat lining or decreasing," Madrid says. "We can increase income or property tax, but that would have a negative effect on keeping people in the borough especially, retirees and seniors."

Through his history in the military and as a manager of multimillion dollar contracts and programs, Madrid says he will be able to properly address these issues.

Madrid says he will serve without any political agenda.

"A community like ours is so diverse," Madrid says. "We have families just starting out and we have seniors. We have different perspectives and we all have different wants and desires, but the one thing that bonds us together is our desire to maintain or increase quality of life."

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Adam Lidgett is a freelance reporter who has covered news and feature stories in State College and Centre County.
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