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Johnstown Selects Interim Mayor

Lucas Willard

Johnstown Mayor Michael Julius died July 28th after serving the Fulton County city for two-and-a-half years. After a difficult week, on Wednesday there was applause at city hall after Cynthia Lakata was sworn in as interim mayor.

Lakata, a Republican who previously served 12 years on the Common Council, was elected by a unanimous vote.

After taking the oath of office, Lakata closed out her first meeting.

“And the meeting is adjourned,” she said to applause.

For the next several months, Lakata she said will focus on the day-to-day operations of the city of about 8,500 residents.

“I’m going to make sure, to the best of my ability, that city operations are running smoothly and if are issues that come up, I’d be happy to address them with the council and department heads. But I don’t have any agenda or aspirations to do anything special other than business as usual,” said Lakata.

A retired elementary school teacher, Lakata has lived in Johnstown most of her life. She said she would not seek a full term in this fall’s special election.

As friends and family visited with city leaders, council member Verne Jackson wished the interim mayor well after what he says was a “gut-wrenching” week.

“The mayor was my friend for 35 years. I miss him already,” said Jackson. “I think we did a good thing here today. She has the experience and she has agreed to fill out ‘til the end of the year and that’s what we need. 12 years on the council gives her a lot of experience, so we’re ready to go. We’re gonna move on.”

Also in attendance was Gloversville mayor Dayton King. He said the neighboring cities work closely together.

“We co-own the wastewater treatment plant, so I think that’s important. Our cities have an automatic aid agreement for our fire department, so that’s important,” said King. “I wish Cynthia the best of luck. I wanted to come out here to show our support and congratulate her, and I think the City of Johnstown is in good hands.”

For those interested in running for mayor in this fall’s special election, independent candidates can file petitions by August 23rd and Democratic and Republican committees can nominate a candidate by September 20th.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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