John DeBartola and Joseph Taranto are presenting themselves as a new kind of political team for the City of Johnstown in this year’s municipal election.
DeBartola is running for mayor, Taranto for City Council – both as Republicans.
In their official announcement, they contrasted themselves to the city government of recent years, which they feel has been heavily influenced by prominent local businessman Mark Pasquerilla and the Greater Johnstown Regional Partnership that he leads.
“Of this two-decades long Pasquerilla-approved council, what have you, the people, received?” Taranto and DeBartola asked in their release. “More jobs? No. Increased property value? No. Better Schools? No. Less blight? No. Better roads? No. Less Crime? No. Less taxes? No. What have you gotten? You’ve gotten used by Team Pasquerilla for their benefit at your expense and every year a thousand people in our area leave because of it.”
The DeBartola-Taranto team is calling for every board and authority within the city to “go under extensive review, financial and ethics, to stop them from bleeding the citizens dry, and either be completely restaffed or dissolved.”
Both criticized the recent selling of the city’s sewer collection system and “frivolous waste on turf for a half-renovated baseball stadium,” referring to a current plan to install a new artificial field at Sargent’s Stadium at the Point.
They also expressed concern with instability in city government, with Johnstown having eight full-time or interim city managers since 2014.
Taranto and DeBartola are of the opinion that Johnstown is controlled by individuals living outside the city.
“The city manager revolving door must be closed and the true governance of the city must be done at 401 Main Street (City Hall) and not on the hill of Westmont or the Holiday Inn (a business connected to Pasquerilla),” according to the statement. “But it’s been 20 years, and you like it this way, or you wouldn’t keep voting in the same people to keep the status quo, keeping the managed decline in the hands of the corrupt tax-and-spend Democratic Party. So don’t vote for us because we are not going to help you destroy Johnstown.”
DeBartola and Taranto unsuccessfully ran for mayor and City Council, respectively, in 2017, then as Democrats.
Taranto, a chiropractor, is a former City Council member, having been appointed to a seat in 2013. He has chaired the Johnstown Housing Authority board of directors and Johnstown Shade Tree Commission.
DeBartola is a social worker and activist in the local LGBTQ community. He often challenges local government agencies, including City Council, Johnstown Redevelopment Authority, Greater Johnstown Water Authority, 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial Authority and Cambria County entities, with legal actions.
Both were involved in bringing a complaint about the Greater Johnstown School District to the State Ethics Commission. Their action led to a report that revealed GJSD officials often made decisions about personnel matters at the Union Social Club, away from public meetings.