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College Township Councilman Paul Takac Eyes Run for State Representative in 171st District

A College Township councilman is eyeing a run for the state House seat currently held by Republican House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff.

Democrat Paul Takac announced on Monday that he has launched an exploratory committee for the 171st state House district.

“I intend to put people first by empowering individuals, ensuring opportunities and elevating communities,” Takac said in a statement. “We need our representative in Harrisburg to focus on the issues that directly impact our region, not the divisive power politics and hyper-partisanship fueled by dark money and self-interest. It would be an honor to serve this district and the Commonwealth.”

Takac said he believes in the need “for investments in healthcare, infrastructure, environmental leadership and education and equitable opportunities, along with greater transparency in government.”

The 171st District includes parts of Centre and Mifflin counties. In Centre County, the district represents Bellefonte, Centre Hall and Millheim boroughs and College (partial), Ferguson (partial), Gregg, Harris, Penn, Potter, Spring and Walker townships.

Benninghoff, of Bellefonte, was first elected representative for the district in 1996 and won a 13th term in November when he defeated another College Township Democrat, Peter Buck. After serving as majority whip for a year and a half, Benninghoff rose to the No. 2 House Republican position when he became majority leader last June.

Takac was elected to College Township Council in 2019. He also serves on the Spring Creek Watershed Commission and Centre Region Council of Governments Public Safety Committee.

He has worked in education technology for three decades and lives in Lemont with his wife and three children.

In the first month of fundraising, Takac said he has raised $18,895 toward his exploratory committee. He plans to match dollar-for-dollar all contributions through the summer.

He’s also garnered some early endorsements from local Democratic politicos, including former Ferguson Township supervisor and current State College school board candidate Buck, Patton Township Board of Supervisors Chair Betsy Whitman and Centre County Democratic Committee political director Jessica O’Hara.

“Paul Takac is an innovative thinker and careful listener,” O’Hara said. “He will deliver solutions that will move us forward and bring us together.”

Takac is the second Democrat this month to announce plans to run for a General Assembly seat long held by a powerful Centre County Republican. Millheim Borough Council President Robert Zeigler intends to run for the 34th state Senate District, a position held for 22 years by current Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, of Benner Township.