Jackson, Talarico, Gifford announce candidacy for ’17

Johnstown Councilman at-large Craig Talarico, left, looks on as Mayor Vern Jackson announces his reelection campaign in his office at Johnstown City Hall in Johnstown on Wednesday. (The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan)

JOHNSTOWN — City government’s top three leaders made it official Wednesday — they are seeking new four-year terms with the 2017 elections.

In a press conference at City Hall, Republican Mayor Vern Jackson, Republican Councilman-at-Large Craig Talarico, and longtime Republican City Treasurer Michael Gifford jointly announced their intentions to run.

“I’m asking that the citizens of Johnstown support us all,” Jackson stated.

The candidates are not technically running as a team.

Gifford said that even though he “likes these guys,” the treasurer should maintain a certain “independence” from the city’s legislative leaders.

Johnstown Councilman at-large Craig Talarico announces his election campaign in his office at Johnstown City Hall in Johnstown on Wednesday. (The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan)

The three are filing Republican designating petitions this week with the Fulton County Board of Elections. The petition process ends today. All three candidates don’t appear to face opposition at this time. Potential independent candidates can file Aug. 15 through 22.

Both Jackson and Talarico are currently serving partial terms for just 2017 due to their predecessors’ death and resignation.

“This is to officially announce I am running for mayor of the city of Johnstown,” Jackson stated. “This year has been a total learning experience.”

He said he has worked well with the Common Council members.

“At this point, we haven’t had disagreements,” Jackson said. “I’m in constant conversations with council members.”

Johnstown City treasurer Mike Gifford announces his re-election campaign in his office at Johnstown City Hall in Johnstown on Wednesday. (The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan)

The incumbent mayor thanked city employees for their help, “kindness and cooperation,”

“These people are the best,” Jackson said.

The mayor said he continues to talk with the town of Mohawk to devise a revenue-sharing proposal for the city and town for a proposed regional business park on Route 30A. He called creation of the park a “priority.”

“We sent a letter in June,” Jackson said. “We’re waiting on a counter proposal.”

Jackson said the city’s current relationship with Gloversville is “obviously, not good” at this time. But he said if he’s elected four years, the tone of the Glove Cities relationship could change. He noted Gloversville Mayor Dayton King is also up for re-election.

“I’m just trying to work through the shared services thing,” he said.

Jackson, previously the city’s 4th Ward councilman, is currently filling out the last year of a four-year term of former Democratic Mayor Michael Julius. A close friend of Jackson’s, Julius died on July 28, 2016. Jackson ran unopposed last fall and was elected mayor of Johnstown during the general election for only 2017.

Cindy Lakata served as interim mayor for the city following Julius’ death until the end of 2016.

Jackson said the mayor of Johnstown can continue to be a part-time position, if done right.

Jackson worked for the federal government. The Utica native started working for the U.S. Social Security Administration in that city, later transferred in 1977 to the Gloversville Social Security office. He retired from that office in 2006 as a claim representative.

He had 25 years of service in the Navy, first as an enlisted man. He later served many years in the Naval Reserve, from which he retired.

Jackson and his wife, Peggy, reside on Yost Street.

Talarico was asked if he had any priorities for the city, if elected to four years as councilman-at-large.

“You don’t know what’s down the road,” he responded.

But Talarico said a main priority for the Common Council is to keep the city budget down and avoid a massive tax increase.

He also said he wants to work closer with the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth to help stimulate the local economy and bring business to Johnstown.

Talarico said he has visited local businesses at the Johnstown Industrial Park, including the Euphrates Inc. cheese company and Pioneer Window Manufacturing.

“They seem quite impressive,” he said.

Talarico was sworn in Feb. 21 as the city’s councilman-at-large, filling a longtime vacancy for that position.

He is a local substitute teacher and retired Air National Guard member.

The council had appointed Talarico for all of 2017. The councilman-at-large position is normally a four-year term and is up for election this fall. Talarico replaces former Councilman-at-Large Christopher Swatt, who resigned June 13, 2016.

Second Ward resident Scott Miller was unopposed for the position last fall and was elected. But he later withdrew because of an alleged conflict with his employment at the Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Facility.

Talarico and his wife, Lucille, reside on South Market Street.

Gifford will have been the city treasurer for 21 years on Nov. 1.

“That means you’re older,” he said.

He said he would like to get someone trained to take his place someday, even though he’s aware treasurer is an elected position.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.