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April 3, 2013

Council still deadlocked on open seat

Bloc shifts support to new nominee, but 3-3 split remains

— Johnstown City Council once again failed to fill the vacancy in its ranks, meaning the task likely will fall to the Cambria County court system.

The board deadlocked between two candidates during a special meeting on Wednesday. Frank Janakovic, Rose Howarth and Marie Mock voted for Angela Gorzelsky. Three other members – William Gentile Jr., Pete Vizza and Mayor Thomas Trigona – gave their backing to Fred Mickel.

With the 3-3 tie, the seat left open by the death of Ann Wilson on Feb. 19 remains empty.

In a vote last week, Gentile, Vizza and Trigona picked Mickel. The other three members selected a different applicant, Anthony “Red” Pinizzotto.

Janakovic, Howarth and Mock then requested the second meeting and backed Gorzelsky as a possible compromise candidate.

“We tried to mix it up a little bit and put up another nomination out there to see if that would work, and obviously it didn’t,” said Mock. “They’re stuck on their nomination. I think it was probably not a good thing.”

Because council could not agree on a candidate, the board will, in all likelihood, lose the standing to fill the vacancy on its own.

According to the city’s home rule charter, council has 45 days to pick a replacement from the time a seat becomes open. The deadline in the case of Wilson is today. Now, any five registered voters (electors) or council can petition the Cambria County court system to fill the vacancy.

“Most likely, the five electors will go through the court,” said Vizza.

He thinks the court will pick Mickel.

“I have enough faith in the court to see what we saw,” said Vizza. “I’m confident that they’ll make a good decision. ... We believe that the most qualified person is Fred Mickel. That hasn’t changed. Out of that field, we stayed with our original pick, Fred Mickel.”

Mickel, a personal friend of Wilson, currently helps as an SAT prep course instructor at Greater Johnstown High School. He previously served as Johnstown Savings Bank’s chief operating officer and president of the Greater Johnstown Chamber of Commerce.

Gorzelsky works at Johnstown Credit Bureau. She is an advocate for multiple sclerosis awareness.

Vizza nominated Mickel.

Howarth put Gorzelsky forth for consideration. Howarth, Mock and Janakovic went through the process of nominating everybody else who was interviewed for the job: Sherry Lynn Harshberger, Anthony Jefferson Sr., Debra Koontz, Melissa LaMonica, Pinizzotto, Lonnie Rietscha, Jean Tanaka, Dr. Joseph Taranto, Gary Tokar and Mark Wharton.

“We made an attempt to kind of throw all the names out there,” said Janakovic.

Council also split 3-3 between Janakovic and Vizza when attempting to select a new deputy mayor, a position Wilson held.

Wilson’s term on council was set to expire at the end of this year.

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