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Centre County Commissioners record historic victory

By CHRIS MORELLI

cmorelli@lockhaven.com

BELLEFONTE — It was a historic night in Centre County.

For the first time in 72 years, Centre County voters re-elected the incumbent commissioners. All three will back for another term.

Democrats Mark Higgins and Michael Pipe and Republican Steve Dershem won re-election on Tuesday night, finishing ahead of Republican Chris Exarchos, who was looking to return to the board of commissioners. Exarchos was a commissioner for two stints before, from 2004-2007 and from 2012-2015.

Dershem talked about the historical aspect of the victory.

“That’s certainly a game-changer. Up until this point, we always assumed there was going to be some element of change in the board,” Dershem said. “We dispelled that myth and made history.”

All three incumbents campaigned on having expanded services and invested in infrastructure without raising county property taxes over the past four years.

Pipe, a Boalsburg resident, received the most votes. He garnered 17,947 votes, good for 26.49 percent. This is his third term on the board. It’s the second consecutive election Pipe has been the leading vote-getter.

“We showed the power of a positive message about bringing people together to solve the problems we face as a team,” Pipe said in a series of Tweets early Wednesday morning. “Over the last four years Mark and I, along with hundreds of County employees and engaged citizens, have shown that this approach can work. We can create a safer county. We can work to restore trust in county government. We can build a local economy that works for everyone. And that yes, we can increase services without raising property taxes — all while passing balanced budgets each and every year.”

Higgins finished second in the race with 16,924 votes — 24.98 percent — and will be back for a second term. Needless to say, he was thrilled with the win.

“I would like to thank the voters of Centre County for our historic victory. I am honored by their confidence in the current board of Commissioners. I would also like to thank our volunteers, donors and others who assisted with our campaign,” Higgins said. “The current commissioners and new row officers will work together as a team for the citizens of Centre County. Thank you!”

This marks the fifth term for Dershem. The Bellefonte resident watched the results roll in at the Willowbank Building on Tuesday night. He earned the third and final seat on the board, receiving 15,747 votes — 23.24 percent.

“I’m pleased that I’m going to be part of the next board,” Dershem said. “It was a tough race. People ran smart campaigns and we did the best we could to make it happen.”

Exarchos finished fourth, receiving 13,487 votes — 19.91 percent.

Results are unofficial until certified by the Centre County Board of Elections.

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