The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

April 27, 2013

Newcomers eye seats on City Council

JOHNSTOWN — Neither Ian Miller, Dave Vitovich nor Charles DiFalco has ever served on Johnstown City Council.

That could help or hurt them in the upcoming election.

Three of their opponents in the May 21 Democratic Party primary – Rose Howarth, Pete Vizza and Marie Mock – are incumbents. The other office-seekers in the nine-person field – Anthony “Red” Pinizzotto, Nunzio Johncola and Jack Williams – all served at least 10 years on the board before stepping down and then deciding to run again.

Those six have all played roles in shaping the city’s economic and political climate.

Voters happy with the current state of affairs could support any of them. Unsatisfied constituents might look to Miller, Vitovich and DiFalco as alternatives.

“I don’t have the name recognition that six of the other people have, but, on the other hand, I’m thinking that actually might work for me,” Miller said.

Miller, a technical publications specialist, is president of Moxham Renaissance, a group dedicated to improving that Johnstown neighborhood.

He supports building a city-owned waste-to-energy plant, expanding neighborhood initiatives, strictly enforcing nuisance ordinances, developing small-scale wind, solar and hydro-electric projects and asking Conemaugh Health System to donate medical services, specifically dental, to needy citizens in place of increasing its payment in lieu of taxes contributions.

Miller feels Johnstown could benefit from working to attract multiple small- to medium-size businesses instead of waiting for another large company, such as Bethlehem Steel, to “come in and take care of us.”

“People tend to think about things in terms of their past experience, rather than stopping to analyze the situation as it is and trying to come at it from a different approach,” said Miller, who has not accepted any outside funding.

Vitovich is a former member of Greater Johnstown School District’s Board of Education.

He spent three decades in the city’s public works department.

“With my experience working with the city and knowing what this city was before and how everything works, I could be a connection to everything that’s going on in the city,” he said.

Vitovich has frequently discussed his desire to address issues of crime and blight. He was inspired to run when, following a shooting in Moxham, he heard an elderly woman talking about being afraid to leave her house.

“Why should these people be afraid to live their lives? Why should they be afraid to go to an event, to go out? That’s not Johnstown,” said Vitovich, before adding, “Something has to be done because it’s out of control.”

DiFalco has expressed similar feelings about crime.

“My main topic that I want to address is to have safety in our neighborhoods and return that back to our community where the people walking around feel safe,” DiFalco said.

“I have a couple ideas with that, regarding dealing with our housing authority issues and our Section 8 issues. There are some different ways that we could maybe make things better. As far as our halfway houses, I’m a firm believer in helping people recover and getting better through their addictions and getting over it. I just don’t think that Johnstown may be a real good place to set it up here. They need a place where they can be successful, get a job and keep their minds off their addictions.”

DiFalco is a GJSD attendance officer.

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