Election changing the face of Johnstown city hall

JOHNSTOWN – Following a tumultuous year in city politics, next month’s general election will make city government look a bit different in 2017.

Political parties had until a Sept. 20 Fulton County Board of Elections deadline to nominate candidates to fill key City Hall vacancies on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

Fulton County Democratic Election Commissioner Lynne Rubscha said last week these Republicans are now on the city of Johnstown ballot: mayor: Vern Jackson; councilman-at-large: Scott Miller; and 4th Ward Councilman: Tim Cellery.

Barring major write-in campaigns, those candidates will secure those offices starting in January.

No Democratic candidates emerged.

The rest of the Common Council will be occupied by these sitting Republican members: 1st Ward Councilman Bradley Hayner; 2nd Ward Councilwoman Kathi Iannotti; and 3rd Ward Councilwoman Helen Martin.

The mayor’s office and the council started to undergo changes June 13 when former Republican Councilman-at-Large Christopher Swatt resigned immediately from his elected position. His work took him out of the area.

The next month, on July 28, the city was shocked by the death of Democratic Mayor Michael Julius. He died at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany after a bout with pancreatic cancer.

Former Republican 1st Ward Councilwoman Cindy Lakata was appointed Aug. 3 by the council as interim city mayor, but she is only serving until the end of this year.

Jackson would be filling the mayor’s post – the rest of Julius’ four-year term -from January through the rest of 2017. Cellery would take his spot on the council in January.

Miller, who would be filling the councilman-at-large post left vacant by Swatt in January, has said he might also be interested in becoming mayor someday. That might set up at least a two-way GOP primary in September 2017 between Jackson and Miller, if both were interested in running for the new four-year mayoral term that starts in 2018.

Miller, current president of the Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education, has already said he will vacate that position mid-school year if he becomes a councilman in January.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected].

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