Councilwoman enters Johnstown mayoral race

JOHNSTOWN – Republican 3rd Ward Councilwoman Helen Martin on Friday announced she will be seeking her party’s nomination for mayor, setting up at least a two-way GOP primary for the position.

“Johnstown enjoys a strong foundation and is poised for continued growth and success,” Martin said in a prepared statement. “I feel that I have the skills, experience and determination to move our city forward.”

Martin has worked at Milligan & Higgins in Johnstown since 1991, most recently in the position of exports director.

Republican city Water Board member Scott Jeffers recently announced he also is running for mayor. The 29-year-old special education teacher will face the 62-year-old Martin in a Sept. 10 GOP primary.

Democratic 63-year-old retired pharmacist Michael Julius announced in April he is seeking the Democratic nomination as a mayoral candidate.

The winner will succeed two-time Republican Mayor Mayor Sarah Slingerland, who announced in March she’s not seeking re-election. Slingerland was the city’s first woman to serve as mayor. The mayor’s term is four years and Slingerland’s annual salary for the part-time position is $18,241 annually. Candidates must file the proper party designating petitions in July with the Fulton County Board of Elections. The general election will be Nov. 5.

Martin said Friday her experience on the Common Council the last two years has paved the way for her to be a successful mayor.

“I think it’s the next step in the progression,” Martin said.

She said she thinks the city is “basically in good shape,” although in the prepared statement, Martin talked about continued enrichment of the city’s history and economic development.

The council appointed her in February 2011 to her current position. She replaced former 3rd Ward Councilman Brett Preston who resigned in January of that year.

Martin, of 9 E. Montgomery St., is married to attorney Russell Martin. He currently serves as chairman of the Johnstown City Republican Committee, but Mrs. Martin noted the bylaws of that panel don’t permit endorsements of candidates until after the primary.

In the statement, Martin said being a councilwoman has allowed her to gain insight into the workings of the city and she has seen the necessity for continued strong leadership.

“I have also had the experience of working with the various department heads and have become knowledgeable of the challenges they face,” Martin said. “I believe that decisions facing the city must be made with the best interests of the residents in mind. Johnstown’s attributes are its historical charm as well as its burgeoning retail growth along the Arterial. But, as with all cities, there are always areas needing improvement, and I am excited with the prospect of identifying those areas and working towards positive solutions.”

Martin said she and her husband have lived in Johnstown since 1990.

“Having been the daughter of a career Air Force officer I never had the opportunity to call a city home,” she said. “I am happy that I can now give Johnstown that distinction.”

Martin has been active in numerous community organizations. She obtained an associates degree in humanities from Fulton-Montgomery Community College in 2007, and a Bachelor’s degree in public history from Empire State College in 2012.

“I am fortunate to have already received encouragement and support in my decision from family, friends and many community members,” she said. “I will be holding a reception in the very near future where I hope to meet many of you and present my thoughts and vision for the city. I also look forward to meeting and speaking with you throughout the summer.”

She said the public can contact her at or 762-7638.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at