Letters to the Editor Digest

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to write a letter to the editor in support of Commissioners Pipe & Higgins! This post is updated as letters are published, so be sure to check back for new letters.



CENTRE DAILY TIMES (November 1, 2019)

In his time as commissioner, Michael Pipe has worked to save taxpayer dollars and reduce recidivism as chair of the Prison Board of Inspectors. He was a leading advocate for Centre County to become part of the “Stepping Up Initiative” to reduce the amount of individuals in the County Correctional Facility with severe mental illnesses. Since becoming a commissioner in 2012, Pipe has advocated for improved mental health services and important resources for re-entering citizens. With these resources, individuals who leave the county correctional facility are less likely to re-offend and are more likely to contribute as productive members of our community.

Before he joined the board of commissioners in 2016, Mark Higgins devoted his career to saving and creating hundreds of good-paying jobs in the private sector. As commissioner, he went to work to help small businesses thrive in Centre County. Helping to create jobs can support a family and keep young professionals in Centre County. Higgins has led to way to have Centre County assist regional business incubators in supporting our local entrepreneurs. His plan for investing in economic development has made us more competitive with other counties in the state, retained local companies, and created more jobs that have and will boost our overall quality of life.

The team of Higgins and Pipe is the most dynamic and forward-thinking choice you can make on Nov. 5 for the betterment of all in Centre County. Let’s keep the team that’s working for us.

Sean M. Miller

Ferguson Township


CENTRE DAILY TIMES (November 1, 2019)

Like many of my neighbors, I’ve had it with politicians who divide our community with angry rhetoric and pander to narrow interests. The good people of Centre County deserve elected officials who devote their time to improving the quality of life for everyone and bringing people together, rather than pitting them against one another.

We deserve elected officials who listen to their constituents, value and uphold the law, and are willing to put in the extra effort required to balance budgets, build our economy, and create a stronger community.

We deserve Michael Pipe and Mark Higgins.

I’ve known Pipe and Higgins since we were classmates in Leadership Centre County six years ago. Both have a genuine passion for public service and have proved their dedication to Centre County residents by delivering results that make life here safer and more comfortable for hardworking families.

Pipe and Higgins have added valuable services to address the devastating opioid epidemic; they’ve invested in training and retaining first responders; they’ve created jobs and established business incubators throughout the County; and they’ve enhanced safety nets for seniors, veterans, and other vulnerable community members.

They’ve done this and much, much more – all while holding property taxes steady for the last four years!

If you value fiscal responsibility, transparency in government, and sensible laws that keep you and your neighbors safe, please join me in voting for Pipe and Higgins on Nov. 5.

Susanna Jech Paul

State College


CENTRE DAILY TIMES (November 1, 2019)

Mark Higgins and Michael Pipe have accomplished a lot in their current term as Centre County commissioners. They have earned the opportunity to be re-elected and continue their important work for the citizens of Centre County.

In particular I appreciate their efforts to expand rural broadband access in places like Penns Valley, and their support for affordable housing through partnerships with the Centre County Housing and State College Community Land Trusts, without increasing county property tax rates.

Especially important is their work to ensure that our elections are fair and votes are counted accurately and safely. The county has new voting machines which are auditable through the provision of a paper trail, as well as being ADA compliant. The Pennsylvania Department of State requires all counties to have new systems in place by the end of this year, but only about 3/4 of them have complied. We are fortunate to be among them.

Mark and Mike work well together and the partisan infighting that has plagued past Boards has ended. Centre County voters have two votes for County Commissioner — please consider using both of them to help re-elect Mark Higgins and Michael Pipe.

Ned Balzer



CENTRE DAILY TIMES (November 1, 2019)

I am writing to encourage all voters to re-elect Mike Pipe and Mark Higgins for county commissioners. I have lived in Centre County over 30 years and I do not know of a stronger team in the role of commissioners than Pipe and Higgins.

Pipe and Higgins have been impressive in their efforts to make living in Centre County better for all. They have a record of thoughtful and reasoned responses to many issues and concerns, from criminal justice reform to mental health, and community development and making county government more accountable.

They have clearly indicated willingness to take the time to study all possible sides of the issues and then act in the best interest of the larger community. This is not always easy or politically expedient but Mike and Mark’s integrity win out every time.

We have been most fortunate to have two public servants of Pipe and Higgins’ caliber willing to serve our County. Some voters vote only in national or state elections but it is often at the local level that changes impact our lives. Please get out and vote, and re-elect Pipe and Higgins as Centre County commissioners. We need their continued dedication, skills and civility.

Kathy Ruhl



CENTRE DAILY TIMES (October 31, 2019)

Please vote for Mike Pipe and Mark Higgins for commissioner because they have and will continue to invest in many communities throughout Centre County. 

I’m impressed with their efforts to support the retention and growth of local businesses by partnering with other local municipal governments to provide needed funds to keep jobs in our community. Because of their leadership, many organizations focused on the arts, culture and history received a record amount of grants this past June to help attract visitors to Centre County. They also advanced affordable housing for workers by investing in GreenBuild, a project led by the State College Community Land Trust, to build affordable net-zero energy homes on University Drive. 

Lastly, Jason Moser, candidate for county controller, deserves our vote. He is committed to a more open controller’s office and the need to increase transparency about how we are spending those taxpayer dollars. As jury commissioner, Moser has saved time and money by transitioning a paper-based process to an online questionnaire for residents. Throughout his professional career, he has overseen multi-million dollar budgets, performed financial assessments, and forecasted revenues and expenses for large departments. His experiences on the Board of Habitat for Humanity and the Leadership Centre County program will enable him to have a great perspective on the services provided in Centre County.

Smart growth takes leadership, vision, and partnerships. Please vote for Mike, Mark and Jason on Tuesday, Nov 5.

Vicki Fong

State College


CENTRE DAILY TIMES (October 31, 2019)

Gastroparesis — a word that changed my life forever. Gastroparesis (GP) means stomach paralysis. Severe abdominal pain, fullness after just a few bites of food, constant nausea, frequent vomiting and bloating are daily reminders. Eating is something we take for granted, but those of us with GP cannot eat and digest normally.

I was a new LPN when GP brought my career to an abrupt end in 2008. Trips to Temple University Hospital, placement of a gastric-electric stimulator, jejunostomy feeding tubes, surgeries, hospital stays, ER visits — professional patient became my job title and I began to advocate for my cause.

To coincide with the National Health Organization’s designation of August as GP Awareness Month, my support group requested and received proclamations from many states, Pennsylvania included, and having spoken to Commissioners Higgins and Pipe at multiple County events and being warmly received, I felt very comfortable asking for their help in raising GP awareness in Centre County.

I first contacted Commissioner Higgins in August 2018 to inquire about establishing Gastroparesis Awareness Month in Centre County and was very pleased when, though their efforts, Centre County became the first county in the nation to designate August Gastroparesis Awareness Month. I then contacted Commissioners Higgins and Pipe about declaring August 2019 Gastroparesis Awareness Month, and they again issued a proclamation and met me in person to receive that proclamation.

I am so thankful for their help and would encourage everyone to show support for these dedicated men in our upcoming election.

Micki Hartranft

Centre Hall


CENTRE DAILY TIMES (October 30, 2019)

I am writing to express my enthusiastic support for a team of candidates for county commissioners and row offices this election cycle.

County commissioners Michael Pipe and Mark Higgins are running for re-election, and alongside them we have a glowing slate of county row office candidates: Jason Moser for controller, Colleen Kennedy for treasurer, Jeremy Breon for prothonotary, Georgi Bennett for recorder of deeds and our coroner Scott Sayers. Each of them possess their own unique sets of skills, qualifications and life experiences suited for these respective offices, matched only by a shared and undying love for serving our communities. Knowing and working with all of them in my capacity as a local political organizer has truly been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and there is no doubt in my mind that the people of Centre County will hold them in the same regard if given the opportunity.

Centre County, Pennsylvania, is a remarkable place that we are all fortunate to call our home. I hold strong in the belief that we deserve only the best from our local government, and that’s exactly what we’ll get with this dynamic team of public servants at the helm.

On Tuesday, Nov. 5th, please join me in voting for the team that works for you. Vote for Michael Pipe and Mark Higgins, Jason Moser, Colleen Kennedy, Jeremy Breon, Georgi Bennett and Scott Sayers.

Laura Shadle



CENTRE DAILY TIMES (October 28, 2019)

On Tuesday, Nov. 5th, we urge Centre County voters to re-elect two individuals who have fought tirelessly for working families. Commissioners Mike Pipe and Mark Higgins have earned the trust and support of the unions of our labor council and we strongly encourage friends of labor to vote for Mike and Mark. They have supported vital services for early childhood development programs, invested in senior centers across the county, hired additional staff for the county veterans office, and became the first county in central Pennsylvania to approve paid parental leave. They’ve accomplished all this and more without raising county property taxes. Further, they’ve done this through teamwork. The investments they’ve made into our downtown businesses are helping grow and strengthen our communities. We look forward to working with them on issues of worker safety and how to continue to create family-sustaining jobs in Centre County.

Vote for the team that’s fighting the good fight: Pipe and Higgins.

Jamie Yurick


The author is the president of Seven Mountains Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO.


CENTRE DAILY TIMES (October 28, 2019)

In 2006, I was appointed by Patton Township to the Coordinating Committee of the Centre County Metropolitan Planning Organization, which allocates transportation funding for the county. After a few years, I served as vice-chair of the committee, and then served as chair from 2013 through 2017 (with Mike Pipe agreeing to serve as vice-chair).

The CCMPO has a funding formula that uses hard metrics (road mileage, population, etc.) to determine budget responsibility. Much of my time as a vice-chair and chair was spent negotiating whether the funding partners, including the county, would meet their funding obligations. When Mark Higgins began his term in 2016, the county finally made a commitment to provide stable funding per the CCMPO’s funding formula. This commitment allowed to CCMPO to focus on other initiatives, including securing funding for the I-80/99 high-speed interchange.

There were many people and groups at the local, state and federal level, both in the public and private sector, that deserve credit for securing the funding for the I-80/99 interchange. For its part, however, the county Board of Commissioners deserves credit for eliminating the uncertainty, starting in 2016, that then allowed the CCMPO and its staff to focus on its primary mission and to use its resources more efficiently and effectively.

I’m supporting Mike Pipe and Mark Higgins for re-election because they enabled the CCMPO to stop arguing over thousands of dollars in order to focus on bringing tens of millions of project dollars into Centre County.

Jeff Luck

Patton Township


CENTRE DAILY TIMES (October 27, 2019)

On Nov. 5th we must decide among a slate of good candidates for county commissioner — who to vote for in what is the most important public office in the county. Important, because we want our commissioners to listen and take seriously our concerns about our local economy, our farmers and businesses, our senior citizens; our legacy of citizen participation and a healthy environment; and because we want our commissioners to manage well an $80 million/year enterprise employing 500 people.

Michael Pipe and Mark Higgins have been doing exactly that — hearing our concerns and acting to address them by supporting and investing in local businesses, providing broadband service to rural areas, strengthening our services for seniors, enacting energy savings improvement to our aging county buildings ... the list of achievements goes on and on and on.

One would be hard pressed to find two commissioners better suited for this important office, better in tune with the concerns and challenges facing Centre County than Michael Pipe and Mark Higgins, who seem to genuinely enjoy what they do in serving the citizens of Centre County and looking out for their best interests.

As Centre Countians know deeply, having commissioners who see themselves as public servants — respectful and open to feedback from all Centre Countians, informed and hitting the ground everyday to work for us — is a wonderful thing for the county! My hope is we will keep this wonderful thing going by re-electing Michael Pipe and Mark Higgins.

Darrell Steffensmeier



CENTRE DAILY TIMES (October 27, 2019)

Four years ago the voters of Centre County smartly changed the board of commissioners. We elected Michael Pipe and Mark Higgins: We must again give them our confidence and vote.

Michael Pipe consistently displays thoughtful and sound leadership. He has focused on reforming the criminal justice re-entry system to limit costly recidivism, and spearheaded the effort to safeguard our elections with new paper-based voting machines. Pipe’s leadership is creating a more humane and safer county.

Beyond all his work, Pipe is a fine leader and high-quality person. He’s a new dad as well, which offers him new perspective on life and the importance of community. Pipe knows that our county needs deliberative leadership and is willing to continue his service knowing the responsibility leadership demands.

We have a great opportunity to re-elect another high-quality individual to the board: Mark Higgins. Higgins has pushed for grants for local businesses and tax incentive zones that will create or retain over 300 jobs in the next three years. For more than 30 years, Higgins served in the private sector. He knows first hand the importance of the private - public partnerships that spur innovation and growth. A true win-win.

During the last four years, Pipe and Higgins have been a winning team for Centre County. Both have the experience, character, integrity and interpersonal skills to continue providing the leadership our county needs. On Nov. 5th, vote Mike and Mark.

Andy Merritt

Halfmoon Township


CENTRE DAILY TIMES (October 25, 2019)

Listening to voters is the mark of a good elected official. Listening to all constituents — regardless of their age, political affiliation, social standing or campaign donation — is the mark of a truly great one.

Commissioners Mike Pipe and Mark Higgins exhibit these qualities.

In his nearly eight years as commissioner, Pipe has served as a board member and liaison for numerous county offices and non-governmental organizations in the area. He has always gathered opinions from the experts on the issues that face the county, but also from those who will be affected, or who have a particular interest. Pipe may disagree with someone, but he will never be disagreeable. His patience is an asset for the board of commissioners.

In his nearly four years as commissioner, Higgins has the ability to sense the direction the county should take on important matters. His service on numerous regional and statewide organizations — including the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania — has enabled him to bring back to Centre County the best practices from other counties and entities. Before enacting change or a new program, Higgins reaches out to various stakeholders to gain trust, consensus and feedback. His energy and enthusiasm to improve our County is infectious and helps to rally our community toward a shared goal.

We in Centre County have two votes on Tuesday, Nov. 5 for county commissioners. Please use them to re-elect Pipe and Higgins. Thanks!

Ron Gebhardtsbauer

Ferguson Township


CENTRE DAILY TIMES (October 24, 2019)

I’ve said this before, and it’s worth repeating.

I’m writing in support of re-electing Michael Pipe and Mark Higgins as our Centre County commissioners. Over the past four years, they have demonstrated an understanding of the purpose of government and the knowledge and skills to implement strategies to provide that government to the citizens of Centre County in an efficient and effective manner.

The purpose of government is to create an environment in which citizens can flourish. This includes providing for health, safety and an infrastructure that enables people to pursue productive lives. While this needs to be done in a financially responsible manner with good administrative practices, good governance is not measured by a “bottom line” metric.

A government, unlike a business, isn’t a for-profit enterprise. Running a profit at the end of the year isn’t a goal. In fact, unless a debt exists that needs to be paid down, a budget surplus is not necessarily a good thing. There’s no year-end bonus or shareholder dividends to be paid and used as a measure of success, only the well-being of the citizens. Pipe and Higgins represent this view of government.

County commissioners are advocates not just for individual citizens but for local governments in their interactions with other levels of government. In his participation with statewide boards and committees; Pipe and Higgins have demonstrated this ability.

Please support these two men with your two votes on Tuesday, Nov. 5th.

M.J. Hovanec

College Township


CENTRE DAILY TIMES (October 21, 2019)

Many college students might think that local elections are not important, but I am writing today to say that they are crucial. I would specifically like to talk about the importance of reelecting our county commissioners, Mike Pipe and Mark Higgins. Mike and Mark’s policies have benefited the campus community in many ways, and will continue to do so you help reelect them.

Mike and Mark support reforming the criminal justice system, affordable housing, protecting our elections, protecting the environment, These policies affect our lives as students in ways that we may not see until they touch our lives personally, but they have a positive impact on individual students and therefore make our campus community stronger and happier.

In addition to supporting policies that benefit us as students, Mike and Mark have regularly made themselves accessible to students. They frequently attend meetings with the Penn State College Democrats. In September, we organized a town hall for students to ask questions about their job as county commissioners and why it matters to them. It is important to elect people who are truly in touch with our priorities as students and Mike and Mark have repeatedly demonstrated that they will fight for us. That is why I will be going to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5th to vote for Mike and Mark, and you should too!

Molly Burns

University Park


CENTRE DAILY TIMES (October 17, 2019)

Our Centre County Commissioners have done an excellent job of moving the county forward exponentially. The energy and ideas they’ve brought to their jobs has made a significant difference for us. The continued leadership of board of commissioners chairman Mike Pipe, vice chairman Mark Higgins and commissioner Steven Dershem will keep us moving forward in a progressive direction.

Since I serve on the SpringBoard Advisory Committee, Bellefonte’s incubator, I’m aware of the commitment Mark Higgins and the commissioners have promised to help it succeed. Three companies have graduated, and jobs have been created. SpringBoard has created new vitality for our town.

Thriving tourism in Bellefonte is a major component for our successful future and the increase in the hotel tax supports more tourism advertising.

Commissioner support of Bellefonte’s priority of historic preservation has resulted in restoration projects at the Centre County Courthouse, the refurbishment of our veterans memorial on the diamond, and energy efficiency upgrades to county buildings that will save energy costs, increase comfort and extend building life.

Utilizing environmentally friendly solar energy for the County Correctional Facility will save over $4 million. The commissioners’ record financial support for our public library shows their commitment to this essential community resource.

Our current board of commissioners, Mike Pipe, Mark Higgins and Steven Dershem, have managed county funds wisely, have demonstrated their ability to identify problems and have proposed workable, sensible solutions for the betterment of the entire county. They all deserve our vote on Nov. 5th.

Nancy Perkins


Keep commissioners for 4 more years

CENTRE DAILY TIMES (October 14, 2019)

Let’s keep our county commissioners in office four more years.

Here are just a few of the many things Michel Pipe and Mark Higgins, in partnership with Steven Dershem, have accomplished. Helped in battling the opioid epidemic by securing a $400,000 grant to help fund the drug court. Supported first responders with a $1.2 million expansion of the public safety training center. Invested in job creation by opening business incubators and financially supporting local industries to create new jobs. Expanded broadband access in rural Centre County through a public/private partnership. Kept county property tax rate level the last four years. Increased transparency by ending surprise votes on the Board of Commissioners and banning campaigning in county offices. Increased safeguards in our local elections by purchasing new voting machines with verifiable paper ballots. Helped rebuild/rehabilitate aging infrastructure by securing multi-million dollar grants. Enhanced services for our seniors and veterans.

Please go to your polling place on Nov. 5th and vote for Michael Pipe and Mark Higgins.

Dan and Linda Treviño

Port Matilda

Pipe, Higgins care about county’s safety, future

CENTRE DAILY TIMES (October 11, 2019)

As a medical professional, I am concerned about safety. Our elected officials have a role to play in improving our safety today and in the future. Commissioners Michael Pipe and Mark Higgins care about the future of Centre County.

Their $1.2 million expansion of the Centre County Public Safety Training Center enables more training capabilities and more efficient use of the site. They worked with state government to receive $305,000 in grants. Now our emergency responders can train regardless of the weather and this new building prolongs the useful life of training equipment.

They created emergency responders scholarships to incentivize new volunteers for fire, police and EMS. In 2018, nine residents were awarded scholarships. By the end of 2019, nearly $30,000 has been invested in first responder scholarships. To ensure our safety we need more volunteers for fire, police and EMS.

In early 2016, there were 13 structurally deficient locally owned bridges in Centre County. These bridges could be closed at any time by state bridge inspectors because they were unsafe. By working together with municipal and state officials and their staffs, Mike and Mark pulled down millions of state dollars to fix eight of these bridges.

The I-80/I-99 interchange has been unsafe for many years. They were supportive of an initiative to fix the problem and helped to lobby state and federal decision makers to secure $180 million in funding.

Please use your two votes for Commissioner on Nov. 5th. I choose Michael Pipe and Mark Higgins.

Linda Solano

State College

Smart leadership makes crime go down

CENTRE DAILY TIMES (October 3, 2019)

Crime has gone down in Pennsylvania, and notably in Centre County. This was due not so much to a “get tough” policy but to a softer approach, that targets first offenders to make sure that they become law abiding, taxpaying citizens instead of career criminals.

We can thank the Re-entry Coalition for this. Chaired by Commissioner Michael Pipe, it has secured funding for both the DUI and drug courts, which handle offenders by monitoring and help in remaining sober. They have improved the counseling services in prison. And they help recently released inmates providing them with the tools and skills they need to succeed (some of them need help in filling forms).

All these efforts have been advocated, in a bipartisan way, by judges and law enforcement officers. The results are before us. Former offenders turn they lives around, become law abiding citizens, and we gain, in exchange, a drop in recidivism — which means that they do not commit crimes — which means that there are less crimes — and thus a drop in the prison population.

Since an inmate costs taxpayers’ money to house and feed — and a law-abiding citizen works and pays taxes — we have a win-win situation.

Good job!

Adriana Ines Pena

State College