Democratic candidates, supporters gather to energize voter base

If Democrats want to take the November elections in Centre County, they need to get out and vote.

This was the resounding message during the Centre County Democrats’ fall dinner Sunday at the Penn Stater Conference Center. Candidates and their supporters from local, county and statewide races gathered to encourage and energize each other.

“The amount of local elections occurring on Nov. 3 touch people’s lives in a more intimate and impactful way than statewide or federal elections,” County Commissioner Michael Pipe said. “I encourage people to really take some time to look at these offices and races.”

Voter turnout was echoed by most candidates, with the concern that the Republican base can be counted on to turn out for smaller elections more than their Democrat counterparts.

“Locally and nationally, Democrats don’t think they have to vote unless it’s a presidential election,” said State College Borough Council candidate Jesse Barlow. “We have to drag them out for any other kind of election. We lose races we should win.”

Barlow said his main focus in the race for Borough Council was trying to be smart about development and helping neighborhoods increase their tax base.

Amanda McCartney, register of wills candidate, said she’s knocked on more than 12,000 doors across the county in her attempt to energize the voter base — work, she said, that has been very rewarding.

Many voters don’t realize that they have to vote for local offices, she said, thinking row offices are appointed. A question frequently heard is, “You have to vote for that?”

“A lot of doors I knock on don’t realize it’s an elected position,” she said. “We have to get out that it’s an important office.”

Pipe called for the party to unite, saying there are about 3,000 more Republicans that may come out on Nov. 3.

“I’ve never seen more committed candidates who have put themselves out there,” he said. “They care about the community.”

Kerith Strano Taylor, who is running for the 5th Congressional District again in 2016, said the election this year was “interesting” due to the number of seats open on the state Supreme Court.

This is the first time the state high court has had three seats open simultaneously in 311 years. This, Strano Taylor said, is important when it comes to redistricting. The Supreme Court has the authority to fill the fifth seat on the Legislative Reapportionment Committee, if the Democratic and Republican leaders in both the House and Senate — who fill the first four seats — cannot agree on a choice.

“Because only in a state with one million more Democrats than Republicans can you have five out of 18 congressional seats,” she said. “I believe (the state) will be working well when every seat is hard fought. That’s when our country works well — when there are no saved seats.”