Three of Johnstown’s most well-known veteran politicians want to rejoin city council.
Anthony “Red” Pinizzotto, Nunzio Johncola and Jack Williams all left office on their own terms in recent years by deciding to not seek re-election. Williams and Pinizzotto held seats until the end of 2011, having served 28 combined years. Johncola bid farewell at the end of 2010.
But the desire to serve again arose in all of them.
So, they entered the Democratic Party primary against six other candidates: Charles DiFalco, Ian Miller, Dave Vitovich, Rose Howarth, Pete Vizza and Marie Mock. The top four vote-getters on May 21 will advance to the general election – where they will face no Republican opposition.
Four council seats are open this year, along with the mayoral position, which is being contested between two Democrats in the primary, Anthony Gergely and Frank Janakovic.
“I’m hoping that I can get back in and possibly make a difference,” Johncola said. “Experience says a lot.”
Pinizzotto expressed similar feelings, saying, “I thought I’d like to try to help the community.”
All three men are retired.
“I would love to see more younger people getting involved, but that’s not the case,” said Johncola.
Williams has served three nonconsecutive terms.
He was known as an independent and outspoken figure, who occasionally clashed with other council members and city officials, concerning finances, legal issues, the home rule charter and guidelines for Johnstown’s participation in Pennsylvania’s Act 47 program for distressed municipalities.
“I would say 95 percent of the time we were in agreement,” said Williams.
“The problems that have arisen with me in the past were when I raised questions about the charter and Act 47 codes. They didn’t like that. They don’t like questions, especially when they don’t have answers.”
He added, “If people want somebody who asks questions and demands accountability, they should vote for Jack Williams.”
He thinks council needs to better monitor the workings of the city.
“I want to see more accountability by the administration and more oversight by city council, but I don’t mean micromanaging,” Williams said.
Johncola and Pinizzotto have formed a ticket with Howarth, Mock and Janakovic. All of them have emphasized a “common sense” approach to government.
“I’d like to be on council with these people,” Johncola said.
Williams, Johncola and Pinizzotto have discussed the importance of addressing the city’s economy and crime issues when campaigning.
In terms of job creation for the city, where unemployment is around 10 percent, Pinizzotto said, “I think we have to get together with the business community, sit down with them and see what they think. Government can only do so much.”
Pinizzotto would like to see at least five more officers hired to help the Johnstown Police Department deal with drug and crime concerns.
“We need them more than ever,” he said. “We’ve got to get these out-of-town drug dealers out of here quick.”
Johncola, a former groundskeeper at Point Stadium, has long been a strong supporter of creating recreation programs and opportunities in the city.