Reaffirming Support for Our Endorsed Candidates

With the State College Municipal Election quickly approaching, and three of BugPAC’s four endorsed candidates earning spots on the ballot, we wanted to reaffirm our support for these individuals and encourage you to vote on November 7.

The goal of BugPAC when it was created was simple: Make our local government more representative of and welcoming to the people who live here. We believe our three endorsed candidates — Michael Black (Mayor), Dan Murphy (Council), and Evan Myers (Council) — will move State College in a direction closer to this goal.

Dan Murphy’s enthusiasm won him the nomination from both the Republicans and Democrats in the May primary. He has dedicated his career to helping new residents integrate into their new homes as the Director of New Student Orientation and Transition Programs. His energy for this community will be unmatched on Council.

Evan Myers brings extensive experience in local government and a pro-student voting record to the ballot. A local business leader for decades, Myers has always represented all segments of the community. We look forward to supporting his efforts as he embarks on another term.

We also urge you to write-in Marina Cotarelo for the third slot. The anti-student rhetoric put forward by the other three candidates on the ballot, particularly from the other incumbent, is not conducive to a welcoming community and we cannot, in good faith, support them. Cotarelo was runner-up in the May Democratic primary.

Additionally, our support for Michael Black for Mayor continues from the spring. He won 13 of the 19 precincts in the May Democratic primary and was able to secure the Republican nomination via write-in votes. Black puts forward a creative vision for State College that brings everyone to the table. Just take it from the Centre Daily Times, which recently endorsed Black for Mayor:

“While Michael Black cannot point to a political track record or years and years of local government experience, he has demonstrated a thorough understanding of the issues the borough is facing (and likely to face in the years to come). In addition, he has all of the attributes and values we believe State College needs in a mayor for the 21st century, especially because of his approach to community-building and his passion for open, inclusive and data-informed communication. As the State College community continues to experience growth and change, the borough needs a strong, energetic ambassador who can help facilitate conversation and who is dedicated to making sure no resident gets left behind. We believe that Michael Black is the candidate best suited to lead the borough now.”

We have heard from some in the community who were concerned with comments Black made about the possibility of a $100 student-Borough fee at a recent debate. We shared those  concerns, and we would never support a candidate who advocated for a discriminatory mandatory fee for students to live in the Borough. Based on our conversations with Black following the comment, and in his public statements since that debate, we are confident that Black does not support such a fee. If he did, we would have pulled our endorsement. And if any candidate supports any such fee in the future, we will fight to strike it down.

The mayoral race has undoubtedly received the most attention and has elicited the most passion (and vitriol) among various candidates’ supporters. We should note that we have personally met with both of Black’s opponents during the course of this campaign and we have great respect for both of them as people and for their records as public servants. We simply disagree with them on their priorities for State College and on various platform proposals (alcohol taxes and red light cameras, for instance). If either of Black’s opponents are successful in this election, we look forward to working with both of them to achieve the State College we all envision. We believe this to be a more productive use of time than disparaging opponents on Twitter based on hearsay, or simply because they did not receive the nomination of your chosen political party.

You have accomplished much so far in this first year of BugPAC. You helped set an absentee ballot record in the spring primary, with an increase of 543%. You helped expose the illegal and unethical practices of our local broadcasting network, aimed and silencing political opponents.

And on November 7, you will help elect a Mayor and Borough Council that we can all be proud of. Look up your polling location here, and remember to VOTE!

In solidary —

The BugPAC Steering Committee

Thank You

Dear Supporters —

The election is over, and because of you, State College woke up yesterday morning to a local government more welcoming and inclusive of all of its residents than it was the day before.

Because of you, three of our four endorsed candidates will move forward to the November general election.


Evan Myers has always stood up for all members of this community. His voting record and his words prove this. It is only fitting, after numerous 6–1 and 5–2 votes in which Myers was one of the lone voices advocating for the position supported by the majority of his constituents, that he should set the record for number of votes received in a State College municipal primary.


Dan Murphy has dedicated his career to helping students become integrated into their college towns. His enthusiasm, his ambition, and his selflessness will be unmatched on Borough Council. He will be a strong advocate for inclusivity and the student/young professional voice for years to come, and State College is better for having him as one of its leaders.


Michael Black overwhelmingly won 13 of the 19 precincts in the Democratic primary, and he will appear on the ballot as a Republican because of his write-in victory on that side. Michael’s campaign got so many people involved in local politics for the first time, and we are honored to support him and his creative vision for State College.

Because of you, Marina Cotarelo finished in a strong fourth place. A student herself when she embarked on this campaign, she placed ahead of two formidable opponents. As a two-time Penn State graduate and now a young professional in this community, Marina has only wonderful things to look forward to, and we thank her for stepping up and giving us all an option to be proud of.

We are so gratified for your support, and there is much to be optimistic about moving forward.

Because of you, students participated in our local election in numbers never seen before. You set a municipal primary absentee ballot record, with more than 676 ballots distributed and an 543% increase in ballots returned from the previous election.

Because of you, we laid the groundwork for a movement that will only grow and improve. The noble goal of making our local government more representative of the people who live here was always going to be a multi-year process. Some of us have graduated and will remain in State College as young professionals, others are moving on to careers in different towns and cities, but together, you have helped set in a motion a campaign that will continue until the job is done. This is only the beginning.

Because of you, the entire community — including the student body — will have positive options for Mayor and Borough Council in November, instead of the election being decided in May when most State College residents are away.

You have inspired us all to strive for more, and everyone at the BugPAC will forever be grateful for your love and support. As Senator Ted Kennedy said, “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

Because of you, our work goes on.

Onward to November.

— The BugPAC Steering Committee

What is the BugPAC?

The support from students, young professionals, and long-term residents in State College has been encouraging since we embarked on this BugPAC campaign. The hundreds of positive conversations our team has had with all stakeholders in this community over the last few months has made it all worth it.

As Election Day draws nearer, we wanted to take some time to explain what we are and what we are not so you can make an informed vote on May 16.

BugPAC’s mission is simple: We believe Penn State students are residents and deserve to be heard and respected in our local government as much as anybody else. We believe that this principle has not been fully realized in recent history.

We believe that State College is a wonderful place to live, work, and learn thanks to the eclectic mix of students and townspeople who call this place home. As a college town, students are essential to the spirit of the place, and their needs should be given proper consideration when decisions are made in the Borough — just like anyone else who lives here. Without students, State College probably wouldn’t exist at all, at least not in its current form.

That’s what the BugPAC is about. We don’t think these are controversial concepts. We think a majority of the people who live in the Borough of State College believe in these principles. Most of the people behind the hundreds of doors we’ve knocked on have reaffirmed this for us.

We are not waging a student takeover. We are not saying that students matter more than anybody else. We do not condone any of the vandalism or nuisances that students (and non-students) cause in some neighborhoods for families in the Borough, and we wish that those among us who behave badly are held accountable. All we want is a better balance of interests on Borough Council and in the Mayor’s office.

Our steering committee of more than a dozen student leaders from a diverse group of organizations — student government, Penn State Athletics, College Democrats, the Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Council, and others — along with our hundreds of supporters and volunteers — both students and long-term residents alike — are working hard to elect candidates who believe in these principles.

Michael Black has boundless energy and vision and is one of the strongest advocates for State College that we’ve ever seen. He will be the cheerleader and bridge-builder that this town needs.

Marina Cotarelo is one of the most service-oriented, selfless people we know, having biked across the country last summer helping communities in dozens of states build affordable housing. She brings the perspectives of a graduate student and young-professional to the Borough Council, both of which are currently unrepresented.

Dan Murphy is as community-oriented as they come and has a vision for State College that reflects his experiences living in three college towns. As the Director of New Student Orientation, he welcomes more than 8,000 new members of this community every year.

Evan Myers has been involved in this community for more than 40 years and has helped guide one of the region’s most important businesses in AccuWeather. He has the experience and voting record on Borough Council to move State College forward.

We believe these four candidates are best suited to achieve the mission we all believe in — a more inclusive, vibrant State College for everyone who calls this place home, whether it’s for 4 years or 40 years, and we earnestly support their candidacies. Every vote for these four great candidates is a vote for a State College that is inclusive to everyone.

Each of our endorsed candidates brings a unique perspective. They do not always agree with each other, or even with us. We are not an organization that forces its candidates to adopt specific political positions, nor do we have the power or desire to do so. We do not support these candidates for the sake of homogeny. But the foundation of their beliefs is rooted in a respect for every resident of this town, regardless of occupation, age, student status, political party, or anything else. That is why they have our support.

This is not a campaign against anybody or any group of people. We have not had the opportunity to meet Council candidates Riley Cooper or Steve Mower yet, but we have heard and seen only positive things about their work. Several members of our steering committee had the opportunity to have lunch with mayoral candidate Don Hahn, who was nothing but professional and cordial.

If any of these candidates win, we hope they will work with us to achieve the principles we’ve outlined above. We all care a lot about State College, and we can only achieve equality if we respect one another.

We know that not everyone agrees with us. We’ve been called an assortment of nasty names and had patently false information spread by another candidate’s campaign manager almost every day. We’ve been told by some that the town only “belongs” to long-term residents and that students are mere transients and unimportant to the business of the town. One person told us that it should be illegal for students to vote in their college towns. Some of our elected officials have referred to students as bugs, rats, miscreants, lowlifes, wolf packs, and drunks in recent years.

Which is more divisive: Referring to more than 70 percent of your constituency by those names, or supporting candidates who will respect everyone who is fortunate enough to live in this community?

State College “belongs” to those who live here and love it. Most people — students and non-students — live here and love it. Some of us, like our Chair and Co-Chair, love it so much that they will remain in State College after graduation this week to begin their careers. Others will love it from afar after they graduate. Even most of those who disagree with our campaign love it. We all love it, have a stake in it, and we all want nothing more than for it to succeed.

On May 16, we urge you to vote for Michael Black for Mayor, and Marina Cotarelo, Dan Murphy, and Evan Myers for Borough Council. We believe these four candidates will achieve a more inclusive, vibrant State College for all residents.

— The BugPAC Steering Committee