A lifelong Johnstown resident who has never sought election to public office was named Thursday to fill the vacancy on City Council.
Frederick Mickel of the 100 block of Worth Street was named to fill the vacancy created in January when Frank Janakovic resigned to become mayor.
President Judge Timothy Creany made the appointment after he interviewed 10 of those who expressed interest in the job.
Mickel stood out as the person most likely to work with City Council, Creany said.
“It was a really tough choice. There were a number of highly qualified candidates,” Creany said. “I wanted someone who was independent and able to work with council. I saw that in Mr. Mickel.”
Attempts in February by council to fill the vacancy ended in a stalemate, prompting city Solicitor Dave Andrews to petition the court to make a appointment.
Interviews of all 10 candidates were held over a three-hour period on April 11.
Creany initially said he would review the applications and interview just those candidates who stood out. But he reversed that decision and met with all interested, he said.
Mickel received word of the appointment from Creany and went to the office of District Judge Leonard Grecek on Thursday afternoon to take the oath.
He termed himself a “political neophyte.”
Mickel was a latecomer in deciding to apply for the vacancy, but it was the ongoing sewer issue that convinced him, he said.
Raised in the Riverside area, Mickel graduated from Ferndale High School. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in business administration.
He was executive vice president and CEO of Johnstown Savings Bank for many years. After taking early retirement in 1991, he operated his own financial consulting business.
From 1996 to 2001 he led a bank in Hynd-man out of a crisis. He has worked as a math tutor for more than a decade for the Cambria County Children’s Development Corp.
He also works with college-bound high school students to prepare them for Scholastic Aptitude Tests.
Mickel has been active in many organizations including the Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Chamber of Commerce, Greater Johnstown Community YMCA, the Cambria County War Memorial and Cambria County Victim Services.
Mickel was one of a number of Johnstown residents interviewed last year to fill another vacancy on council, a post filled by Joseph Taranto.
Taranto ran an unsuccessful write-in campaign last year and was one of the applications seeking to fill the current vacancy.
Councilman Pete Vizza said he interviewed Mickel last year and found him to be capable.
“I give them all credit for stepping up to the plate and wanting to help the city any way they can,” Vizza said. “They were all good candidates and I congratulate Mr. Mickel.”
Mickel’s financial background and willingness to work with others put him over the top, Creany said.
“He brings good financial expertise and he has good ideas on how the face of dealing with the city should change,” Creany said.
Mickel will hold the seat through December 2015.
As for seeking election to the post, Mickel said he has not decided.
“I want to work with these people, see if their minds are open,” he said. “I’m going to try my best at getting something accomplished.”
Kathy Mellott covers the Cambria County Courthouse for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/kathymellotttd.