The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

March 14, 2014

Johnstown needs a leader | Applicants sought for City Council vacancy

JOHNSTOWN — Was anybody really surprised when Johnstown City Council could not agree on a replacement to fill an open seat on council?

In its latest, lame attempt to select someone to fill a vacancy created when Frank Janakovic left council to fulfill the duties of mayor, the two political factions of city government tied 3-3 when voting for four individuals who were whittled from a field of 11.

“I think with the 3-3 deadlock, it’s something we’d lost control of before the meeting,” Johnstown Mayor Frank Janakovic said at a council meeting last month. “Evidently, some people were set on who they were voting for and weren’t going to change.”

It seems to us, though, that everyone on council had their minds already made up as to who they were supporting.

Council had 45 days to fill the empty seat, but, alas, failed.

The matter was dumped into the lap of Cambria County President Judge Timothy P. Creany.

The same scenario played out last year when council tried twice to fill the unexpired post of Ann Wilson, who died unexpectedly. Council tied 3-3 on those votes.

According to an advertisement that appeared on back page of Wednesday’s edition of The Tribune-Democrat, Creany will accept applications until 4 p.m. March 21.

According to Cambria County Court Administrator William Valko, Creany will interview the applicants and determine who gets the post.

“All city residents need to do is apply,” Valko told our Kathy Mellott earlier this month. “And after all applications are received, we’ll schedule interviews.”

We know that Creany will not approach his duties lightly. And we also hope that he chooses an individual who is an independent thinker, someone who will put the needs of Johnstown before himself or herself and, more importantly, before any political faction.

We need someone who has ideas on how Johnstown can emerge from under its Act 47 security blanket of distressed status; someone who has ideas to bring jobs to the city and right this listing, slowly sinking community; someone who can offer input on how city leaders can reverse the brain drain.

One of our fears is that a political retread will be appointed to council, someone who just goes along with the flow.

What Johnstown needs are applicants with new perspectives, people who are willing to rock the boat.

We ask the Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Chamber of Commerce, Johnstown Area Regional Industries and Young Professionals of the Alleghenies to urge people from their ranks to apply.

After Creany has finished interviewing the candidates, we would ask that if he doesn’t believe there is an acceptable leader he start the process over again.

We know the position creates a lot of stress and is rewarded with very low pay. We also know that whomever is chosen will make some new friends, and at the same time, plenty of enemies.

But the political climate in Johnstown is stagnant. Let’s take this opportunity to breathe new life into the city.

To apply

Candidates interested in filling a vacancy on Johnstown City Council must submit an application by 4 p.m. March 21. Application must be accompanied by letter of intent and, preferably, brief resume.

Send to: Hon. Timothy P. Creany, President Judge, Cambria County Courthouse, 200 S. Center St., Ebensburg, Pa. 15931.

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