2017-11-01 / Shorts

Three-Horse Race

We asked each of the three candidates for State College mayor the same questions — What is your vision for the future of State College? and What makes you the right person to lead the borough in achieving that vision?

Here are their responses for your perusal before the 2017 Municipal Election on Nov. 7.

Michael BlackMichael BlackMichael Black

What is your vision for the future of State College?

My vision for OUR State College is rich in vibrant diversity — age, religion, culture, neighborhoods, work, economic and personal interests. We become a hub of innovation as we seek new solutions to ongoing challenges facing our borough. We regularly hear more voices of residents previously not engaged in important conversations in our community. All of our residents are glowing with community pride. Our charming neighborhoods, parks and green spaces are thriving with grace. Empty lots in neighborhoods become collective community gardens. New and longtime businesses hum with activity in part because of our deep, talented pool of graduating students. Allen Street becomes a pedestrian mall, and public spaces host free local art and music. Graduates launch their careers and businesses here, becoming business owners and homeowners. Residents and friends contribute their welcomed talent and time to the community, and embrace State College as an integral fabric in their lives.

What makes you the right person to lead the borough in achieving that vision?

As mayor I will advance OUR State College by example and promote cooperation among all people. My 27-year residence in the borough as a student, business owner, community leader and husband/father has prepared me to provide passionate leadership. I honor neighborhoods and am well versed in zoning through my gentrifying rentals to single-family homes and dilapidated properties into desirable workspaces. I appreciate risk by investing in community via building a creative studio that is my workplace and home-offices to an engineering firm and art therapist. I value community by countless hours committed to cultivating leaders for roles in nonprofits, supporting local business and fostering an arts culture. I will bring my ability to focus on details while supporting a larger vision, my real-life experience balanced with actively listening to all people. I will offer an even hand, patience, good judgment, efficiency, a sense of humor and, above all, kindness.

Donald HahnDonald HahnDonald Hahn

What is your vision for the future of State College?

As a Centre County native, a Penn State alumnus and a borough homeowner, I know that State College is a great place to grow up, to get an education and to settle down. As mayor, I will work to keep it that way. First and foremost, we must recognize and maintain the fundamentals to the success of State College — neighborhood sustainability, fiscal balance, healthy town-gown relations, regional cooperation and a vibrant downtown. Housing initiatives, such as the Community Land Trust and the Neighborhood Sustainability Program, are important in promoting increased homeownership opportunities for young families. The West College Avenue area has tremendous potential as a center of entrepreneurial activity, where its residents can both live and work in the same neighborhood. We must also work to improve State College as a welcoming community for international students and teachers and for the children of Pennsylvania’s urban and rural communities.
What makes you the right person to lead the borough in achieving that vision?
My demonstrated experience and commitment make me the right person to lead the borough.

Since returning from law school in 1992, I served 12 years on Borough Council (two years as president), four years on the Redevelopment Authority (where I am currently serving as vice chair), two years on the Planning Commission and two years on the Community Development Block Grant Citizens Advisory Committee. As a member of the inaugural board of the State College Community Land Trust, I am familiar with the borough’s owner-occupied housing initiatives. As a member of the Urban Village Steering Committee, I am familiar with the problems and potentials of the West College Avenue area. As a former board member of the Pennsylvania Municipal League, the Centre Region Council of Governments and the Pennsylvania Association of Councils of Governments, I have a head start in establishing the partnerships that will help actualize this vision.

Ron MadridRon MadridRon Madrid

What is your vision for the future of State College?

My vision for State College is that it remains the tolerant, diverse, inclusive and vibrant community that it is. The residents of State College come from a variety of backgrounds, have a myriad of life experiences and have a multitude of perspectives. They are strengths that provide a key component to the superb quality of life that we enjoy in the borough.

Building on our diverse backgrounds, our collective commitment to the environment, affordable housing and a vibrant downtown, I envision a future State College that is an even more appealing place to live, work and visit. The current resident and borough government dialogue concerning historic preservation, a zoning ordinance update and recreational facility options demonstrate that we can and do come together to work out issues for the common good. Ours is a wonderful community which will only get better over time.

What makes you the right person to lead the borough in achieving that vision?

It is not a question of achieving the vision, it is making the borough even better.

To be effective and enhance the vision, the mayor should know and be able to articulate the borough’s issues/challenges, impartially arbitrate between opposing parties, be respectful to all, listen and facilitate the arts of negotiation and compromise.

Being a neighborhood association president, a member of the Historic Resources Commission, Planning Commission and Real Estate Advisory Commission provide insight into the issues/challenges of the borough. My professional acumen in program management provides me the tools to assess the efficiency of borough programs and assess their value to the community. Most of all, the mayor must be a leader. My recognized leadership abilities as a Marine and peer-elected chair/co-chair of every borough commission I have ever served on speak for themselves. With my fellow residents, we can and will make our community even better.

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