Longtime Penn State trustees Jesse Arnelle and Joel Myers will be among 32 candidates battling for three alumni seats on the board this spring, during an election the latter has compared to a referendum.
Incumbent trustee Marianne Alexander, on the other hand, has bowed out and will not seek re-election, as her name was not on the official ballot that was announced Friday.
Arnelle, on the board since 1969, and Myers, on the board since 1981, are expected to face a tough battle to hang onto the seats they’ve had for decades.
That’s because many Penn State alumni are angry over the way they and the other board members in November 2011 handled the Jerry Sandusky scandal, such as by firing longtime football coach Joe Paterno.
In addition to the two incumbents, the ballot will have a list of familiar names who waged unsuccessful bids over the past two years and those who are running for the first time.
At 32, the number of candidates is down from the last year, when there were 39, but it still suggests there’s a strong interest in joining the board.
Alumni can start voting April 10, and the election will end May 8.
Among the candidates to run again is Ted Sebastianelli, a former Nittany Lion who played for Paterno; he will have the No. 1 spot on the ballot. He ran unsuccessfully last year, finishing fifth, but he said that showing among the field of 39 encouraged him to try once more.
The rising cost of tuition is one of the big issues for him, he said. And so is what happened to Paterno.
“What’s happened a couple of years ago, and the raw deal that Joe got, it’s visceral for me,” he said. “It’s personal thing for me.”
Ryan Bagwell, of Middleton, Wis., ran in the previous two post-Sandusky scandal elections.
He’s gained popularity in some circles for both the open-records cases he’s waging against several state agencies and two appearances at Nittany Lion great Franco Harris’s “Upon Further Review” sessions that analyze Sandusky scandal events.
Alumni Rudy Glocker, of Henderson, Nev.; Robert Bowsher, of San Diego; and Amy Williams, of Wayne, round out the list of three-time challengers. Former state Sen. Robert Jubelirer, of Boalsburg; Robert Hooper, of Burlington, Vt.; and Joshua Fulmer, of Easton; are other two-time challengers.
The field of newcomers include Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams and former Centre County district judge and commissioner Keith Bierly, of Rebersburg.
There are several recent graduates, too, such as former dance marathon leader Dan Cocco and former student body president Gavin Keirans.
Over the past two elections, candidates who’ve been critical of the board have dominated. The alumni group Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship has endorsed four of the six winners, and the group is working to endorse three more for this election.
Last year’s PS4RS endorsements, Barbara Doran, Ted Brown and Bill Oldsey, won in a landslide and knocked out incumbents Paul Suhey and Stephanie Deviney.
One of the subplots of the election will be the conflict between Myers and his enemies within PS4RS.
Myers dubbed his candidacy a “referendum” between the PS4RS supporters and those alumni he said who want to move past the scandal.
He blasted the PS4RS group for focusing on Paterno and the controversies surrounding the board’s decisions in the heat of the Sandusky scandal.
“As long as we fight among ourselves, the world will pay more attention to our conflicts than they will to our accomplishments,” he said at the time.