Johnstown mayor gives her farewell

JOHNSTOWN – Retiring two-term Republican Mayor Sarah Slingerland presided over her last Common Council meeting Monday at City Hall, thanking city government officials she’s worked with.

Slingerland praised council members, department heads and those associated with city government who she said have made a difference in the city’s quality of life. She pointed to the Dec. 6 Colonial Stroll downtown as a good example of that.

“What you have given this city is the pride,” the mayor said. “The community was very positive and felt very good about that Colonial Stroll.”

City government will have several new faces with the council’s organizational meeting at noon Jan. 1 at City Hall.

Democrat Michael Julius will replace Slingerland, the city’s first female mayor, for his new four-year term. New council members will include Christopher Swatt, who beat Councilman-at-Large Bryan Marcucci in the general election, and new 2nd Ward Councilwoman Kathi Iannotti and 4th Ward Councilman Edwin Queeney III, who ran unopposed in November.

Slingerland said she preferred not to rehash every one of the accomplishments of her administration and city officials over the past eight years. But she mentioned some of the ways the city is better, citing a “stabilized” tax rate and cleaner city through the demolition process.

She said council members and department heads worked together the past eight years to provide a new spirit of pride in the city in an “unquantifiable and subtle” way, again citing the Colonial Stroll.

“I think that’s very much appreciated by the community,” Slingerland said.

The mayor said the council “always truly understood its role.” She added that her council members always knew how to scrutinize city taxpayer funds – a process that “deserves respect” by city officials.

Slingerland said she wanted to leave city leaders who are staying and the new ones with this thought: “Always, always, do what’s important.”

First Ward Councilwoman Cindy Lakata, who remains on the council, reminded Slingerland she served the city for 10 years, not just eight. She was referring to her two years prior to becoming the mayor that she served as a council member.

The other remaining council member – 1st Ward Councilwoman Helen Martin – thanked the mayor and others on behalf of everyone in city government. The others included City Attorney Susan Palmer Johnson, also leaving that position, as well as departing council members.

“We wish you all the best,” Martin said.

Concluding her remarks, Slingerland said the city is “doing fine” and she recognized the newcomers in city government. They included Julius and Iannotti, who were in attendance, and the other new council members.

“I’m confident we’re leaving the city in good hands,” Slingerland said.