State College resident Divine Lipscomb announced that he is seeking election to borough council this year.
“For our communities to be a place where everyone can thrive, we cannot let the richest 1% and the politicians they pay for continue to exploit divisions among us based on what we look like, where we come from, or how much money we have,” Lipscomb said in a statement.
Lipscomb, an adult learner Penn State student who works in advocacy for supporting the reentry of formerly incarcerated individuals, added that he believes it is important for residents who live below the poverty line to have representation on council.
“This pandemic highlighted the economic disparities here and the borough’s dependency on the university as a way of staying afloat,” he said. “We need a stronger economy, equity and justice in all carceral, housing and health matters.”
Lipscomb is among six candidates so far who have announced their intention to run on the Democratic ballot in the May 18 primary, joining theater company and school owner Richard Biever, Penn State law professor Gopal Balachandran, former councilwoman Cathy Dauler, current Mayor Ron Filippelli and current councilwoman Katherine Yeaple.
A Centre County resident since 2009, Lipscomb is a formerly incarcerated advocate and undergraduate adult learner studying rehabilitation and human services in his last semester at Penn State before internship.
Lipscomb detailed his journey to Penn State as featured speaker at the College of Education’s Prison Education and Reentry summit in 2019.
Lipscomb currently works as special projects coordinator for the Penn State Restorative Justice Initiative higher education in prison program, which works to help incarcerated individuals earn degree-bearing credits and uses education as a tool in reentry services. He also serves as the president of the Students’ Restorative Justice Initiative
He is the founder of Corrective Gentleman Inc., a nonprofit alternative to incarceration and reentry program that focuses on mentorship and advocacy.
“I’m running to reimagine, reinvest and renew State College Borough,” Lipscomb said.
Along with Biever and Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors candidate Tierra Williams, Lipscomb is one of three Centre County candidates running PA United PAC’s Our Communities Can’t Wait slate, described as “people-powered, people-funded campaigns that will not take any funding from corporate PACs, corporations, or landlords who profit off exploitation.” The initiative is “less focused on traditionally ‘electable’ candidates and more focused on people with the diverse life experiences it takes to form a government that works for everyone.”
Three State College Borough Council seats are up for election this year. Current council members Evan Myers and Theresa Lafer are term-limited and cannot run this year. Yeaple currently holds the third seat up for election.