Johnstown Mayor Sarah Slingerland took a homemade apple pie from her oven Tuesday afternoon, a day after announcing she will retire from public office.
It was a special apple pie, celebrating her eight years as mayor, and how she plans to spend her retirement.
“It’s the only thing I can make well,” she laughed.
Slingerland released a statement Monday saying she won’t be running for a third term come the election season. “It has been a true honor and privilege to serve the citizens of Johnstown for 10 years — eight as mayor and two as a member of City Council,” it read.
Though she was in high spirits Tuesday, she said the decision was a hard one.
“I think it’s appropriate for me right now,” Slingerland said. “My husband recently retired and I have four grandchildren under the age of 5. It’s time for someone else to take over.”
Looking back, the 63-year-old Republican has a lot to reflect on. As the first female mayor in the city’s 250-year existence, she presided over a period of growth.
“We have a growing population,” she said, “and the city is cleaner than it has been in decades.”
While she was in office, five disused industrial sites were demolished, and one replaced with new housing units. She also said both industry and young people are starting to return to Johnstown.
Slingerland is also pretty proud of “stabilizing” city tax rates, saying that over her two terms they’ve gone up by an average of only 1.5 percent a year.
“Most of all I like to think I helped improve quality of life here,” she said.
The lifelong city resident lives with her husband, David, in a house just a block and a half from City Hall. Before running for office she taught English to the students of the Greater Johnstown School District for 20 years.
When her term runs out at year’s end, she plans to spend her new free time hanging out with grandchildren, baking more apple pies and “traveling like retired people do,” she said.
Until then, Slingerland has nearly a full year at Johnstown’s helm.
Currently no potential candidates have stated plans to run to replace her.