The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

April 2, 2013

Interest high for council seats

Veterans, newcomers throw hats in ring


The Tribune-Democrat

— It’s disappointing that no Republicans have entered the race for several seats on Johnstown City Council. Still, voters in the May 21 primary election will have plenty of hopefuls to wade through before casting their ballots.

Nine candidates have filed paperwork on the Democratic side, many of them familiar faces and former officeholders.

We applaud those willing to step up to what is an ongoing challenge – serving office in a financially ailing municipality.

While Johnstown will have plenty of candidates to choose from, many boroughs and townships in our region, especially smaller ones, as well as school boards, continue to find pickings slim come election time. In many cases, residents in communities are increasingly unwilling to take on a responsibility that often comes with plenty of criticism, little or no pay and long hours of work.

City Mayor Thomas Trigona, who is not seeking re-election, is paid $3,500 annually. Council members are paid $2,200, with Rose Howarth and Marie Mock waiving their stipends.

As reported by our Dave Sutor, the field of city council candidates is divided into three distinct groups:

* Howarth, Mock and Pete Vizza are incumbents seeking re-election. (Also up for grabs is a council seat held by the late Ann Wilson.)

* Nunzio Johncola, Anthony “Red” Pinizzotto and Jack Williams previously served on council.

* Charles DiFalco, Ian Miller and Dave Vitovich have never been on the board.

All but two of the seven council seats are open this year.

“I sort of thought I wanted to get back into it and see if I could make a difference,” Johncola told Sutor.

He, Pinizzotto and Williams have logged four decades combined on council.

Current Councilman Frank Janakovic is running for mayor against Anthony Gergely, an advocate for the disabled and city beautification. Gergely made a name for himself by spearheading a fundraiser to light several city bridges. No taxpayer dollars were involved in the project.

Often, we hear area residents call for younger candidates to bring new blood and new ideas. Although that might have its advantages, it’s nice to know, too, that knowledgeable, business-savvy veterans are willing to continue serving.

Voters will have plenty of homework to do over the next seven weeks deciding which of the nine candidates are the best fit for Johnstown.

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