Johnstown mayoral candidates preach the opening

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By Andrew Waite

The chief herald

JOHNSTOWN – The two mayoral candidates for the town of Johnstown pledge to prioritize financial openness.

Republican Amy Praught and Democrat Michael Rose have both expressed disappointment with the past financial transparency since the tenure of city treasurer Michael Gifford, which began in the late 1990s and ended recently after announced that he will not be running again this year. Thomas Herr, the interim treasurer in office since the start of this month, is running unopposed in the next general election.

“In the past, there was not always this transparency with the treasurer’s office. I think there will be more transparency, ”Praught said.

Rose said that, if elected, he would initiate a financial audit by a certified public accounting firm soon after taking office.

“We have to go back to where we have a baseline between our budget and what we spend,” he said. “Either way, we need to get a CPA firm to come and check the books. I want to frame this correctly.

Although the candidates agree on the need for greater financial transparency, they differ on other important points. Praught, 52, is a true political insider in the city, having served for a year and a half as a member of the 3rd Ward Council until she stepped down in May because she moved to a house outside of her neighborhood, she said. Meanwhile, Rose, 48, embraces the role of underdog.

“Nepotism will end. Goodbye, it’s done, said Rose.

Rose and Praught are both interested in having the position of treasurer appointed rather than elected.

“One of my goals, perhaps, is also to make this post an appointed post and not an elected post,” Praught said.

Rose said the model of an appointed treasurer would lead to more qualified candidates. He said he wished Herr luck, but questioned Herr’s credentials. The Leader-Herald previously reported that Herr’s Facebook profile stated that he had “studied accounting at the State University of New York at Cobleskill” in 2010 and “studied a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Business Administration. business at SUNY Plattsburgh “in 2012.

Herr confirmed his credentials on Wednesday evening. He also confirmed that he is not a certified public accountant.

The Johnstown City Treasurer’s Office has no formal education requirements and is open to any citizen over the age of 18 living in the city.

Praught said she wanted to meet with Fulton County officials to explore the possibility of including the town of Johnstown in the Hornell Plan, which she said would put tasks such as tax collection in the hands of County of Fulton.

“The former treasurer never wanted to be involved in this,” she said. “He always wanted Johnstown to be responsible for collecting his own taxes.”

The candidates said part of the motivation for financial openness was linked to the ongoing bond issuance. As The Leader-Herald reported this summer, the city is seeking an approximately $ 12 million bond to pay for capital projects and equipment acquisitions. More than $ 7 million of the total demand came from the city’s elected Water Council, The Leader-Herald reported.

Rose questioned the motivation behind the link.

“Six months before an election, are we going to ask for $ 13 million?” It doesn’t look good, ”he said.

Praught said upgrades to the water supply system were needed.

“What’s in the link is a necessity as far as the water department goes,” Praught said. “The water network infrastructure is obsolete.

Praught pointed to the High Daddy Dam, which she said is uninsurable as it is “beyond repair”.

Praught and Rose also want to reconsider the amount of money spent on emergency response services in the city.

However, Rose’s approach is much more direct, saying, “I’m firing people from day one.” He promises to remove all emergency service chiefs, including Fire Chief / Code Enforcement Chief Bruce Heberer and Police Chief David Gilbo.

Part of Rose’s issues with emergency response service chiefs stems from an ongoing legal issue, in which Rose says he is being sued by the City of Johnstown for building a new patio over his home in 2013 without license. He says he did not get a permit, but he believes the crackdown is politically motivated. Rose is a shameless critic of former President Donald Trump and city leaders.

But the other part of Rose’s problem with the city’s police and fire department comes down to conduct and attitude, he said. He thinks the officers are showing too much force.

“It turned into Baghdad,” he said of the streets of Johnstown, describing sirens blaring too often. “I don’t know what they’re doing, and it’s getting weird.”

Rose said he would replace the current police chief with a woman.

“I’m going to hire a woman. I think they are better at de-escalation procedures, better at communications, ”he said.

Praught said she plans to assess whether the city is overpaying for ambulance services and whether some of the costs could be offset by transferring some emergency response tasks to Fulton County. She said the council never received sufficient financial reports on the city’s ambulance services.

“We need an assessment of what it is really costing us,” she said. “I want to keep the ambulance service, I want to. But let’s see from the start how much we spend.

Praught said she is also keen to tackle the scourge and plans to establish a landlord registry requiring all homeowners to formally list a point of contact within the city who is responsible for maintaining a property.

The two contestants, both residents of Johnstown who have raised children in the city, differ in their style. Praught, who wore black-rimmed glasses to match her top, chose her words carefully. Rose, who has unbuttoned her shirt to reveal a T-shirt stating, in salty language, that Trump has lost, lets go of profanity and offbeat language. He has a life-size floor lamp from the movie “A Christmas Story” in his living room window and a sign in his house saying “this is all crazy and laughing until someone laughs. and fools ”. He admits his quirky personality may put off some city voters.

But, he says, if people are talking about the city and taking an interest in what’s going on, he’s happy.

“It will be a spectacle. But it’s going to make people think, and it’s going to make people change, ”said Rose. “I’ll take the bullets.”

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