Jack Williams is planning to run for Johnstown City Council again.
On Friday, the well-known elected official submitted petition signatures and paperwork to the Cambria County Election Office to get on this year’s general election ballot as an independent candidate, ahead of the Aug. 1 deadline.
Williams, a current member of City Council who has served four nonconsecutive terms, switched from being a Democrat to an independent last year. He did not enter this year’s Democratic primary race. Now, if 100 of his signatures are verified, Williams will be on the ballot this fall, along with Democrats Donald Buday and Michael Capriotti, and Republican Charles Arnone.
The county office could not be reached in time on Friday to confirm Williams’ submission.
“Being very truthful, earlier I said I wasn’t going to run, but (I got) an awful lot of encouragement from supporters and friends that said I should run, and asked me to reconsider, telling me I am, along with (Councilwoman) Charlene (Stanton), a voice that doesn’t hesitate to express the concerns with what’s going on in the city,” Williams said.
Williams explained why he switched from a Democrat to an independent, saying, “In past elections, I’ve seen, especially in my races, members of City Council who were Democrats and endorsed by Democrats openly supporting Republicans. I’ve come to the conclusion that party affiliation in the City of Johnstown is not what it once was. That’s nothing against Democratic leadership.”
Stanton, a Democrat, did not run in the primary, nor switch to being an independent.
Williams and Stanton have been frequently at odds with the other five members of City Council, concerning numerous issues, including budgets, the ongoing sewer project and the effectiveness of different city managers. The disagreements have frequently led to contentious council meetings and legal proceedings.
“I’m strongly of the opinion that current members of council have continued to not take (the issues) serious,” Williams said.
He decided to run again, at least in part, after flyers were sent out during the primary, depicting him, Stanton and Democratic City Council candidate John DeBartola as part of a circus.
“When that group came out with the flyer with John DeBartola, me and Charlene, I think I kiddingly said, ‘They were better off letting the sleeping dog lie,’ but they chose not to do that,” Williams said.
As an independent, Williams will be faced with the obstacle of not receiving votes from anybody who casts a straight party ballot, whether Democratic or Republican.
“There’s no doubt running as an independent in Johnstown or Cambria County is a challenge,” Williams said. “But I’ve been on the ballot many, many times. I’ve won some. I’ve lost some. We’ll just see how it turns out.”