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March 29, 2013

9 seek council seats: Democrats vie for 5 open seats on board

JOHNSTOWN — The field of Johnstown City Council candidates is divided into three distinct groups.

Rose Howarth, Pete Vizza and Marie Mock are incumbents seeking re-election.

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

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

All nine filed paperwork to run in the Democratic primary on May 21. No Republicans have entered the race.

There will be five seats open on the seven-person board in the general election.

Williams, Pinizzotto and Johncola spent four decades combined on council.

All of them felt an urge to return after leaving office.

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

Pinizzotto expressed similar feelings, saying, “I think, with my experience, I can help.”

Williams stated: “I want to get involved, to be a voice for the city.”

According to Johncola, he will be part of a campaign team with Pinizzotto, Mock and Howarth.

The group will also include Frank Janakovic, a current member of council, who is running for mayor against Anthony Gergely, an advocate for the disabled and city beautification, in the Democratic primary.

“I think I could bring us all together to work together,” said Janakovic, executive director of the Alternative Community Resource Program in Johns-town.

Howarth and Mock are seeking second terms after they successfully campaigned together in 2009.

“I think there have been a lot of good things that have happened in the last four years in the city,” said Howarth. “I’d like to think that I’m part of it. I’ve worked hard. Neither Marie nor I took any money from the city for salary.”

When discussing issues, crime, drugs and public housing safety were repeatedly mentioned as concerns by the candidates.

“Our fathers and our grandfathers and our forefathers built this town,” said Vitovich, the Knights of Columbus Council 467 Grand Knight and a former public works employee.

“They worked in labor, they worked in the mills. Beside them stood our mothers, our grandmothers, our great-grandmothers. For me, to see where these people are afraid to go outside because of crime, that really hurts. That hurts to see when these people are captive in their own homes.”

Vizza was instrumental in establishing the city’s Drug and Crime Commission, a group of civic leaders brought together to examine criminal activity in Johnstown. The committee has been meeting since January. It is expected to issue a report to City Council in the summer. “I’d like to see what will happen with that,” Vizza said. “I’d like to continue to be part of that. I sort of established the thing; I’d like to see it through.”

DiFalco, a Greater Johns-town High School attendance officer, discussed local crime problems by saying, “A real important issue that we need to address is how to make our neighborhoods safer.”

Miller is president of the Moxham Renaissance. The group has been involved in culturally enhancing the

Moxham neighborhood for years.

Given a recent rash of violence in the community, including a shooting murder, the organization has decided to become more involved in attempting to reduce crime.

The Renaissance is working to install security cameras at key points in Moxham.

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