The Centre County League of Women Voters hosted its second Candidates’ Night of the fall on Wednesday, offering a forum for candidates in local races to address the voters.
Among the seven races covered during the event was the one for State College Borough Council. There are five candidates running for three open seats — incumbents Evan Myers and Theresa Lafer, both Democrats, Republicans Lynn Herman and Richard Fitzgerald and cross-listed candidate Dan Murphy.
Candidates answered six questions. One of those was about the most important issue facing the borough.
It’s neighborhood preservation, Herman said.
State College has lost “beautiful” homes adjacent to commercial downtown that have been turned into apartments, he said.
For Lafer, there’s a social need for stability to maintain the neighborhoods and increase the number of residents who are earning incomes andcan contribute to the tax base.
In order to do that, the borough needs to provide economic stability that makes it possible to increase inclusionary and affordable housing, she said.
“The single most important issue to me is how we talk about and treat our neighbors,” Murphy said.
Bringing people together in dialogue and respecting and listening to each other will make the borough more successful in other issues it’s facing, he said.
Myers said there are numerous issues that need to be addressed “urgently,” such as the shrinking tax base, pressure on homeowners and a thorough review of the zoning codes.
He also cited strengthening the neighborhoods, which includes finding more affordable and inclusionary housing.
“Being a Republican, I am one for smaller government,” Fitzgerald said. “But government obviously has a role, so I come from a combination of revenue as well as deciding what really is the role of government for the citizens of State College.”
He said it’s also important to have empathy, as some residents feel intimated by coming downtown.