A Republican will be joining Johnstown City Council.
On Tuesday, Charles “Chuck” Arnone was the top vote-getter among four candidates in the election to fill two seats. There are currently six Democrats and one independent on council.
He unofficially received 1,521 votes or 29.4% of those cast, according to Cambria County's Election Office.
Two Democrats – Michael Capriotti and Don Buday – were unofficially tied for second with 1,474, as of 12:45 a.m. Both had registered 28.5%.
Capriotti unofficially had 1,466 votes to Buday's 1,463 when the final precinct was originally reported around 10:30 p.m., but the numbers changed later.
Arnone, a resident of the Hornerstown neighborhood, will be the first elected Republican on council since Ann Wilson died in February 2013, although two members of the GOP – Joseph Taranto and Frederick Mickel – were appointed to fill vacancies since then.
“I don't think being a Republican means anything in this particular situation,” Arnone, Johnstown Housing Authority's chairman and owner of TNC’s Lounge, said. “That's my personal beliefs. In the city's politics, if we're doing our jobs, it's not about Republican or Democrat. It's about representing the citizens of the city and doing everything we can to make the city move forward.”
He will join a council that has two years to prepare the city for its exit from Pennsylvania's Act 47 program for distressed municipalities by Oct. 28, 2021.
“I hopefully can send the city in a better direction in the next four years,” Arnone said. “Primarily, stabilizing the city's pension plan, getting us out of Act 47, and creating more cohesiveness within the City Council.”
Like Arnone, Capriotti mentioned how City Council has been divided to the point of meetings often being contentious in recent years.
Capriotti, who lives in the Moxham neighborhood, said getting Johnstown ready to leave Act 47 and addressing blight are among the important issues facing the city. He said he would be “up to the challenge of serving and trying to continue to move the city in a forward direction and do so in a manner that's going to be more professional and productive from a meeting standpoint.”
Buday could not immediately be reached after the original results were posted on the county website around 10:30 p.m.
The two new members will join Mayor Frank Janakovic, Deputy Mayor Marie Mock, Ricky Britt , Rev. Sylvia King and Dave Vitovich, who will remain when the next council begins work in January 2020.
They will fill seats currently held by Jack Williams and Charlene Stanton. Williams did not run in the Democratic primary, but then gained enough petition signatures to earn a spot on the ballot as an independent. He finished fourth on Tuesday with 10.6% – 547 votes. Stanton launched a last-minute write-in campaign. There were 156 write-in votes cast, accounting for 3% of the total.