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Democrat Paul Takac decisively wins new Pennsylvania House seat in Centre County

A head and shoulders photograph of Paul Takac in a blue button down shirt outside.
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Democrat Paul Takac was the winner in Tuesday's election in the race for state House of Representatives in 2022 in the newly created 82nd district, which covers part of Centre County.

Democrat Paul Takac pulled off a decisive win in the race for the state House of Representatives’ newly created 82nd district, which covers the middle part of Centre County and was seen as competitive.

Takac got 12,588 votes compared with 9,836 votes for his Republican opponent Justin Behrens, according to unofficial county results.

“I’m really looking forward to representing every person whether they voted for me or not,” Takac said.

He said knocking on doors and talking with people before the election, a few issues emerged.

“We need to better support working families and local communities,” he said. “We need to invest in education, full and fair funding at all levels for education. We need to address climate change and environmental justice, and we need to protect individual rights.”

Takac has been vocally pro-choice on abortion, while Behrens is pro-life.

Takac said voters have a range of priorities, including the economy and education, but abortion was a motivator for some.

“I do think that it really motivated people to get out and recognize that this election was a choice. It was a clear choice between two different visions of how we could move forward as a commonwealth and as a country.”

Takac currently serves on College Township council. He plans to step down from his seat, which will be up for election in fall 2023.

The House district runs down the middle of Centre County, from Burnside Township in the north to Harris Township in the south, covering the Penn State campus and part of State College. It leans Democratic, with more registered Democrats than Republicans, but was still seen as competitive. Registered Democrats make up about 53% of district voters compared with Republicans at 49.9%, according to the nonpartisan Dave’s Redistricting.

Michael Pipe, chairman of the Centre County Commissioners, said there are fewer than 1,000 ballots left to be counted — not enough to make a difference in the race. Those include provisional and overseas ballots.

Overall in Centre County, about 62,000 voters cast ballots in the election, either in person or by mail-in or drop-off votes.

Pipe said while there can be a propensity to have concerns about what happens on election day, the process worked.

“The thing that I have faith in and so many other people do, is the fact that we have a tremendous amount — hundreds of volunteers across Centre County, really across the commonwealth, across the country — who spend 15, 20 hours of their day working a poll. And it’s an incredible thing,” Pipe said. “It’s really volunteer democracy in action.”

Anne Danahy is a reporter at WPSU. She was a reporter for nearly 12 years at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, where she earned a number of awards for her coverage of issues including the impact of natural gas development on communities.
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