Mike Julius has some ambitious plans for Johnstown.
The lifelong resident and retired pharmacist announced his candidacy for mayor Thursday night, with the backing of the Fulton County Democratic Committee.
“I’ll be pounding on doors until the election,” he said, “and if I win, I’ll hit the ground running.”
Thus far, Julius is the only one in the race. The incumbent, Republican Sarah Slingerland, announced in March she won’t be running for a third four-year term.
Julius has what he called a “three-stage path to prosperity,” which he laid out in a phone interview Thursday before his official announcement. The first stage, he said, is redirecting the path of economic growth in the city toward high-tech industry.
“I’m not looking to bring something the size of GlobalFoundries to Johnstown,” he said. “I am looking to bring in all the smaller companies that support GlobalFoundries.”
He was careful to say his plan won’t give established city businesses short shrift. In fact, as the longtime owner of a pharmacy in Broadalbin, he said new economic growth is the best way to support current business.
New housing makes up the second stage of his plan.
“No technology professional wants to live in a dump,” he said, suggesting a private/public partnership to tear down the old and build up the new.
Finally, he blamed the economic downturn on a poorly educated workforce. As mayor, he said he would try to encourage undecided high school students to attend Fulton-Montgomery Community College to earn practical degrees in technology and management, skills that will be needed by the industries he hopes to attract.
It’s a lot to get done in a few years, but Julius said he’s eager to get started.
“I’m tired of smelling decay,” he said. “I want to smell construction.”
Though he is currently the only declared candidate and well-known in the community, the November election is still far away and very much up in the air. According to the Fulton County Board of Elections, Johnstown voter enrollment breaks down to roughly 1,200 Democrats and 2,500 Republicans, along with a handful of voters in minor parties.
Board of Elections officials did say several other people have stopped by their offices to inquire about joining the Johnstown mayoral race but confirmed no others have officially announced a candidacy.
Even with the disproportionate number of Republicans, county Democratic Committee Chairman Ed Jasewicz said party labels won’t matter with Julius’ candidacy.
“Democrats get a bad rap,” he said. “We’re all just trying to do the best for our residents.”
He also pointed out Julius has a background as a successful small business owner, a fact he hopes will win over conservative voters.
Susan McNeil, chair of the Fulton County Republican Committee, could not be reached for comment Thursday about any possible Republican contenders.