Johnstown voters could have a difficult time making up their minds at the polls this November.
All three mayoral candidates, while running under different party lines, promise the same basic thing: more jobs.
“We have a high unemployment rate in this city,” said Conservative candidate Helen Martin. “What we really need is jobs.”
The sentiment was echoed by Republican Scott Jeffers and Democrat Michael Julius. They all figure jobs are necessary for Johnstown to rise from urban blight, but there are certain differences.
Julius, a 63-year-old retired pharmacist, declared his candidacy early this spring shortly after current mayor Sarah Slingerland decided against seeking a third term.
He has a three-pronged plan for economic development, starting with a focus on high-tech industries.
“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 said he also plans to develop new housing for technology executives and work with Fulton Montgomery Community College to teach local kids skills for the new industries.
The other two candidates have more modest expectations. Martin, 63, the current 3rd Ward councilwoman and export director at Milligan and Higgins, said getting high-tech industry isn’t a realistic goal.
“There’s nothing wrong with blue-collar jobs,” she said. “We have empty factory buildings. We should work on getting any business we can in there.”
Jeffers, if elected, also would go after blue-collar jobs, but considers them a pathway toward the sort of tech jobs that Julius is after.
“If we get a lot of people making a respectable salary,” he said, “then maybe our downtown might improve and the city will draw high-tech jobs.”
Aside from the focus on jobs, the candidates differ on some of their goals.
Martin is looking to start a home-grown marketing effort to bring people to Johnstown.
Julius said he’s looking to bring back the community bus service that was stopped several years ago.
Jeffers is 29, less than half the age of either of his opponents. He plans to bring his connection to the newer generation into office, hopefully making Johnstown the sort of place young people might want to stay.
The mayor is paid just over $18,000 a year and serves a four-year term.
EDUCATION: Master’s in education from SUNY-Cortland
EXPERIENCE: Substitute teacher at Johnstown and Gloversville schools; Johnstown city water board member
EDUCATION: Pharmacy degree from the Albany College of Pharmacy
EXPERIENCE: Owner/opperator of Broadalbin Pharmacy for more than 20 years, retired 2010
FAMILY: Married to wife Catherine 35 years; one grown daughter
EDUCATION: Bachelor’s in history from SUNY-Empire State
EXPERIENCE: Export director at Milligan and Higgins; 3rd Ward city councilwoman for 2 years
FAMILY: Married to husband Russell 23 years; one grown daughter.