Eric Zavinski – News Editor
CLARION, Pa.- After a three-all tie on Tuesday, the Clarion Borough Council and its members had interim mayor Carol Lapinto cast the final vote that elected Dan Parker new acting mayor for the next two years to replace the resigned David Walter.
Parker is the executive director of the Clarion Free Library.
Clarion University philosophy professor Jamie Phillips was Parker’s only competition. Phillips was the first to send in his application for mayor in November. Each applicant had three minutes to present statements at the Tuesday borough meeting before the council convened to discuss and vote.
In an exclusive with The Clarion Call, Phillips expanded on his goals and motivations for a mayoral seat. While Parker is set to lead Clarion in the next couple years and Phillips is “very happy for Dan Parker and know[s] that he will do a great job,” there are still reasons behind his bid Phillips wanted to get across.
“I take it seriously,” said Phillips, elaborating on why he chose to run for mayor. The professor recalled times in his life for instance when someone told him to join the military or go to college, and he followed through.
He followed the same mindset in running for mayor, saying he thinks others can see the potential in those around them, something he says he tries to do with his students at Clarion University.
Phillips expressed that his main goal would have been to bridge the gap between the university and borough communities in hopes for a better relationship. He thought that being a professor in the mayoral seat, he could have been a “positive focal point” to change the relationship.
Phillips cited issues in Clarion centered around housing rules on campus, such as having freshmen live in university housing for their first two years that have negatively impacted off-campus landlords and business.
He also views the establishment of the Reinhard Villages and the Suites on Main as furthering the segregation of the university environment from the greater borough.
“I see a community that needs help,” Phillips said. “I’d like to help.”
Phillips also dislikes how the university administration sometimes handles the borough.
“I think the borough and university lock horns with each other,” he said.
In accordance with the mayoral seat being a volunteer position, Phillips said he had no agenda and would have liked to lead by example.
“All ships should rise,” said Phillips. “I see myself as much as a member of the borough as the university.”
Phillips fondly remembers how accepting people were of him and his family when they moved to Clarion 18 years ago. The community he wanted to give back to as mayor is “a great place to raise kids.”
The professor also mentioned he was prepared to make tough decisions beyond the nominal duties of mayor. One such tough choice for previous Mayor Walters was the dismissal of Mark Hall as Clarion Borough police chief.
Phillips was enthused to have the chance to oversee the borough’s police as well. “I have respect for the police force,” he said.
Former Clarion mayoral candidate Phillips repeated he would have had no agenda in the position he sought and wanted to make Clarion a better place through his unique experience and mindset. He plans to continue impacting the university and community in the future.