With a surge of absentee ballots cast in the primary election Tuesday, BugPAC may be on its way to fulfilling its slogan of reclaiming State College.
The political action committee, with strong ties to Penn State, has campaigned to secure the Democratic nominations of candidates who aim to “make State College more inclusive” of diverse residents.
In 2015, only 30 absentee ballots were cast in the Borough of State College for the municipal primary, according to Centre County election coordinator Jodi Neidig.
That number is up to 193 this time around.
With most students away on summer vacation, BugPAC has worked over the past few months to register and equip voters with absentee ballots.
“For a primary, that’s exceptionally high,” Neidig said.
Launched in March, BugPAC is co-chaired by Terry Ford, the former president of Penn State's undergraduate student government.
BugPAC Chairman Kevin Horne said he’s optimistic as Election Day kicks into full swing.
Still, the stakes are high, he said, for Penn State students who make up about 70 percent of the Borough’s population.
Zoning restrictions, regulations on fraternity houses and party registration fees are set to take center stage in the Borough Council in the upcoming months.
“We would really like to have people in those offices that reflect the diversity of the community,” said Horne, the former president of the Graduate and Professional Student Association.
BugPAC has endorsed Marina Cotarelo, the former vice president of GPSA, as a Council member.
Dan Murphy — the director of Penn State’s Office for Student Orientation and Transition Programs — and incumbent Evan Myers have received BugPAC’s support for the Council, as well.
For the mayoral race, BugPAC has stood behind Michael Black, the owner of BLACK SUN studio.
As Horne sees it, the primary election is about earning respect for students in local government.
“Students are often shouted down and condescended to when they come to the Borough Council meetings,” he said.
Penn State student Rylie Cooper is also looking to secure a spot on the Council. Though not supported by BugPAC, Cooper is endorsed by current Mayor Elizabeth Goreham.