State College Borough Council meeting, Jesse Barlow & Theresa Lafer

Borough Council members Jesse Barlow, left, and Theresa Lafer respond to questions at the State College Borough Council meeting on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021 at the State College Municipal Building.

The State College Borough Council swore in three new council members and elected a new council president at its special meeting Monday.

After a final meeting of the previous council marking the end of the terms of Mayor Ronald Filippelli, and councilmembers Theresa Lafer, Evan Myers and Catherine Yeaple, new members Gopal Balechandran, Richard Biever and Divine Lipscomb were sworn in to their first terms as part of the council.

The three new councilmembers ran together as part of the “Our Communities Can’t Wait” campaign slate in 2021, a PA United PAC dedicated to electing diverse candidates in local offices across Pennsylvania.

Balachandran, an assistant professor of clinical law at Penn State and former public defender will be the first Indian-American elected and Lipscomb, a Penn State adult student will be the first formerly incarcerated person to serve.

Biever, the owner and director of FUSE Productions and Singing Onstage in State College, is also an assistant professor of theater at Penn State.

The trio replaced current council members Lafer and Myers, who were term-limited and cannot run again for two years, and Yeaple, who did not advance out of the primary in May.

Outgoing councilwoman Lafer, the longest serving member on the previous council who served for 14 years, thanked the State College community for its support.

“None of us can repair the entire world, [but] the nice thing about working at this level is you can help repair your world,” Lafer said. “It is a gift to be elected or appointed to a city or borough council.”

Myers, who has lived in State College for 50 years and served on the council since 2014 said, “we always need to remember what a wonderful community this can be,” thanking many local government officials he has had the chance to work with over his time on the council.

After final remarks from outgoing members, Centre County President Judge Pam Ruest swore in the newly elected council — including Mayor Ezra Nanes who immediately began presiding over the meeting.

After opening remarks from Nanes, nominations for the next council president began with councilwoman Deanna Behring nominating current council president Jesse Barlow for the position.

Seconded by three other council members, and with no other nominations brought forward to the council, Barlow was elected the next president of council unanimously.

“My heartfelt thanks to my fellow council members for trusting me with the council president for two more years,” Barlow said. “The council president's job is to help [the] council do its job. One of my most important roles will be to listen to my colleagues and to members of my community."

Barlow has served on council for the past six years, and will serve at least two more in the role.

"I may not always agree with you or may not be able to tell you what you would like to hear, but what you say will always be important to me.”



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Anjelica Rubin is a borough reporter for The Daily Collegian. She is a sophomore studying broadcast journalism with a minor in political science.