close
close

New member of the State College Borough Council appointed

State College Borough Council on Monday selected an interim member to fill a vacancy on the seven-member board of directors.

John Hayes will serve the remainder of former Councilmember Divine Lipscomb’s elected term through December 31, 2025. Lipscomb, who was elected in November 2021, resigned on May 12 because he’s leaving town.

Hayes was one of them Four local residents have registered for the open council position, along with Nathan Romig, Tony Sapia and Tyler Thompson. They each gave a presentation during a council work session on May 13.

Hayes has lived in the College Heights area for 15 years, is a professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State and serves on the State College Transportation Commission.

“My central motivation for applying for this open position on the City Council is my strong interest in planning and transportation, and more importantly, the way these decisions impact the daily quality of life of residents and potential residents of our community,” Hayes said during his presentation. .

Citing data from the St. Louis Federal Reserve, Hayes says there is a housing affordability crisis locally and nationally, which can be attributed to the underproduction of housing over the past fifteen years. For that reason, he said, Hayes was “generally supportive” of the high-rise growth over the past decade in downtown State College, noting that a community cannot be “trapped in amber and still thrive.” .

“But I also believe that there have been substantial mistakes made in terms of misaligned incentives that have led to unintended and undesirable consequences, such as one and a half Super Walmarts worth of unfilled commercial space downtown,” Hayes said. “This is why I support the efforts for a comprehensive rewrite of our zoning laws in the municipality. Such a rewrite is long overdue, because continuing to patch a zoning code introduced during the Eisenhower administration will not and cannot meet our long-term needs moving forward.”

Using a process similar to that used in recent years to fill other vacancies, names of council members were randomly drawn Monday evening to determine the order of nominations. The first nominee to receive a majority of four votes would win the position and no further votes would be cast.

Councilman Kevin Kassab took first place and nominated Romig, who received Kassab’s vote but no others.

Next in the order was Councilor Nalini Krishnankutty, who nominated Hayes. Kassab voted no, but Krishnankutty, Gopal Balachandran, Matt Herndon and Josh Portney voted yes to give Hayes the necessary four votes. Council President Evan Myers did not vote on either nomination because he was last in line and the outcome had already been determined.

Council members praised each of the applicants as strong candidates for the position

Krishnankutty said Hayes’ final choice was not a reflection of the other three candidates. Her criteria, she said, was intended to “really keep in mind who we are replacing, what the mandate of the voters had been.”

“I just wanted to say that to say that this does not mean that the other candidates that I did not nominate were not worthy of the position or would not have done a great job,” Krishnankutty said.

Mayor Ezra Nanes thanked all candidates for performing public service by applying.

“I was also very proud last week,” Nanes said. “I thought we had four spectacular candidates. Having been through this twice myself and not being chosen, your participation in the process is a service to the community and means a lot. Thank you to all four applicants. You make us all proud.”

Hayes will be sworn in at the regular council meeting on June 3.

“The neighborhood is a great place to live and I truly believe we all want to make it a better place to live for current and future residents,” Hayes said during his presentation. “Achieving this goal requires coalition building, and those coalitions can result in unexpected partners or allies who may disagree on issues outside the Borough Council’s remit. By focusing on concrete steps we can take locally, I believe we can create policies that will make our great city even better.”