Johnstown picks Julius for mayor
JOHNSTOWN – The city is getting a new mayor – Michael Julius.
The retired pharmacist defeated two other candidates in Tuesday’s election.
According to unofficial results from the Fulton County Board of Elections, the 63-year-old Julius, a Democrat, received 828 votes. Coming in second was Republican Scott Jeffers with 649 votes. Third Ward Councilwoman Helen Martin, who ran as a Conservative, garnered 350 votes.
After his victory, Julius held up a glass of champagne at Partner’s Pub and spoke to a gathering of supporters.
“Thank you very much,” Julius said. “Tonight is the easy part. We’re going to have to roll up our sleeves and get our city working again.”
Minutes earlier, Jeffers stood outside Patricia’s Restaurant on his cellphone congratulating Julius.
“I wish you all the best, Mike,” said Jeffers, a 30-year-old city Water Board member.
Jeffers had defeated Martin in the Republican primary in September to capture the GOP nomination. He was endorsed by the Johnstown City Republican Committee.
The mayor’s position is a four-year term and is considered part-time. Two-term Republican Mayor Sarah Slingerland – who was paid $18,241 for 2013 – did not seek re-election. The new mayor will take office at the start of next year.
The city’s last Democratic mayor was
Robert Schultz – Slingerland’s predecessor.
During his post-election party at Partner’s, Julius thanked supporters and his wife, Catherine.
Away from the celebration, he said he believes his keys to victory were that citizens of Johnstown need someone to lead them out of the economic doldrums.
“It was the same issues – the economic issues,” the mayor-elect said. “The people were responding. People want to get back to work.”
When he announced he was running in April, Julius announced a three-point plan, with the first being to try to bring in more high-tech business, such as small “computer feeder” corporations, into the city.
However, he said he’s “not going to abandon Main Street.” He also said the city needs quality housing as a way to attract such companies.
Third, Julius said the local work force needs to be retrained and Fulton-Montgomery Community College can be used as a conduit to improve on a “lack of good skill sets” that have emerged in recent recessionary times.
Julius, who ran the former Broadalbin Pharmacy for many years, lives at 134 E. Montgomery St. He is a 1967 graduate of Johnstown High School and a 1972 graduate of the Albany College of Pharmacy. Julius is a political newcomer who said he hasn’t attended Common Council meetings but has kept up on city issues by watching council sessions broadcast on local TV.
Julius said Tuesday night he’s “bound by the budget” currently being worked on by city officials for 2014.
He said he has an “ambitious schedule” of things he would like to accomplish as mayor. They include job creation, cleaning up the city and “redoing” Main Street.
“Everything in life has an economic underpinning,” Julius said.
Jeffers wished success to Martin and congratulated Julius.
“I am disappointed after putting in the time and effort and money,” Jeffers said. “I hope [Julius] succeeds.”
Martin, who remains on the Common Council through the end of 2015, congratulated Julius and wished Jeffers well.
“Hopefully, we can move forward and move the city forward on the right track,” she said.
Julius said he’s looking forward to working with other city officials who will be on the Common Council next year, including Republican 1st Ward Councilwoman Cynthia Lakata and newcomer Christopher Swatt.
In the race for Johnstown councilman-at-large, independent candidate Swatt unseated incumbent Bryan Marcucci, a Republican who ran on the Conservative line.
Swatt received 897 votes compared to Marcucci’s 664, according to unofficial results.
Swatt said today he received good feedback through local media as he communicated his thoughts.
He said he would like to bring back the former Summer Festival in Johnstown. He also said the city is in the “perfect spot” among regional economic development ventures such as GlobalFoundries to capitalize on job creation.
He said the city also needs to work with the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth.
“We need to all work together,” Swatt said.
Swatt made the best of his opportunity to challenge Marcucci in Tuesday’s general election, even though Marcucci had earlier been successful in getting Swatt’s name removed from the Republican ballot line.
Marcucci was successful in his July challenge of Swatt’s candidate petitions, which were missing some required information.
Swatt decided in August to run as an independent.
The city’s councilman-at-large position has a four-year term, starting in January, and pays $4,413 annually.
The 49-year-old Swatt, of 11 Nicholas St., ran on a platform of business experience. He is a business developer and manager in Albany. He also favors more open communication and shared dialogue with the Fulton County Planning Board, Fulton-Montgomery Community College and the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth.
Swatt is a former member of the Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education and served on the district’s Restructuring Advisory Committee, which recommended closing Jansen Avenue Elementary School as a cost-saving measure. Swatt also served on the city’s Zoning Advisory Committee.
He is a member of the Fulton-Montgomery Community College Board of Trustees, which sets policy and governs the operating budget for the community college. Swatt also is a church school teacher and member of Holy Trinity Church and a girls’ basketball official.
A 1982 Johnstown High School graduate, Swatt later received an associate degree in hospitality management and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Paul Smith’s College.
He and his wife, Raquel, have two children, Alexis and Skylar.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.