YORK, Pa. – Tiffany Seitz, 23, Miss Laurelwood, was named Miss Pennsylvania 2019 at the Pullo Family Performing Arts Center in York on Saturday night. The runner-up was Page Weinstein, Miss Moraine State.

The day started out with 28 contestants, which narrowed to 11 for the final round, until only Seitz and Weinstein were left. Seitz is from Freeport, just to the northeast of Pittsburgh.

She will represent the commonwealth at the Miss America pageant. Alysa Bainbridge, Miss Philadelphia, was third runner-up.

The Miss Pennsylvania finals took place after a turbulent 18 months, in which the national Miss America organization had an internal rebranding battle between controversial chairwoman Gretchen Carlson and local pageant directors. In the course of that battle, the Miss America Organization stripped the Miss Pennsylvania awards of their license.

According to the Miss America Organization’s recent rebranding efforts, it was not a beauty pageant but a competition. And the local titleholders? They were candidates for a job.

All candidates participated in traditional job interviews — but not without traditional pageant glam. Elisa Rivera, Miss Susquehanna Valley, arrived to her interview in a one-shoulder dress, the lone sleeve striking and ruffled. Marlisa Miller, Miss Fields of Valor, wore a lavender pantsuit.

In addition to the interviews, candidates pitched personal advocacy platforms, performed talents, and graced the stage in evening gowns.

But the competition week didn’t start onstage. The candidates balanced rehearsals with a preview of the on-the-ground community work that the yearlong role entails.

That preview took them to the Capitol on Monday, where they spoke with legislators and met Gov. Tom Wolf. The group watched as outgoing Miss Pennsylvania Kayla Repasky threw the first pitch at a York Revolution game. They visited Penn State Children’s Hospital in Hershey and climbed aboard motorcycles on a tour of the Harley-Davidson assembly plant in York.

These outings were initiated by a new board of Miss Pennsylvania directors. Since Miss Pennsylvania lost its license last October, a group under the leadership of Debbie Butcher, a five-time former local Pennsylvania titleholder herself, stepped up to reclaim it.

Butcher’s involvement shows how important the organization has been, not only for the young women competing but also for their local chapter directors. All volunteers, these women and men (yes, in fact, many men) have seen the organization through its ups and downs.

Bobbey Biddle, executive director of the Miss Philadelphia local chapter, grew up participating in community theater in his small Delaware hometown. “I was a little gay boy growing up in a conservative area. Theater saved my life,” Biddle said. “One day we were like, ‘We’re gonna go check out this beauty pageant that takes over our theater once a year.’ I showed up and I was just blown away by what I saw.”

By age 23, Biddle was directing local Miss Delaware competitions. Now, at 37, he’s known in pageant circles as Mr. Philadelphia. It’s a title that makes earnest Biddle shrug with humility. “You might want to call Bryce Harper Mr. Philadelphia,” he said. “But I’ll take it.”

Unperturbed by the changes this year was Bainbridge, Miss Philadelphia. In 2017, she served as Miss Pennsylvania’s Outstanding Teen through the organization’s little sister chapter.

For Bainbridge, now 20, participation is about more than the crown. Bainbridge lost her older brother to an opioid overdose last year, and she’s using her platform to discuss mental health and addiction. “I just thought being Miss Philadelphia would give me an opportunity to show that opioid addiction isn’t what it looks to be on the surface,” Bainbridge said. “That even these people that you think may have perfect lives are affected.”