By LEVI PASCHER
Fulton County Express
JOHNSTOWN — A familiar name will soon be taking the vacant councilman-at-large post after the city council made the official decision following a round of interviews last week.
Mayor Vernon Jackson said the council held interviews with six interested candidates and decided to name city resident Craig Talarico to the second highest position in city government on Monday night.
The 63-year-old fourth ward resident is the second Talarico to be seated in the councilman-at-large position in the city of Johnstown. His father, Lucius S. Talarico, also previously served as alderman-at-large in Johnstown.
“I think subconsciously it has always been part of my life,” he said. “I’ve always followed politics but the time seemed right to take on that responsibility.”
Talarico said he is optimistic about the city’s future and excited for the opportunity to work alongside the mayor and members of the council in the year ahead.
“We have a great team at City Hall and I’m really excited to be working with them,” he said.
He said the biggest issues he would like to address is both the tax rate and seeking new economic development opportunities.
“We need our city to grow,” he said. “We need new families and businesses moving here. I’m still in the study phase but I’d like to help the city keep the taxes low. If we want people to move and retire here then we have to keep that tax rate as low as possible.”
He said in the weeks ahead he will look to familiarize himself with other issues facing the city and prepare himself for the work that needs to be done in the coming months.
Talarico currently serves as a substitute teacher at both the Gloversville and Johnstown school districts after previously retiring from the National Guard. He is also currently an active member of the local rescue team.
Talarico will officially be sworn in during the next meeting on Feb. 21 at 7 p.m., in the council chambers at City Hall.
Jackson said he believes Talarico has the personal and professional skills to succeed in the position.
“He presented himself very well,” he said. “I think he has the traits that we were looking for and will be a great asset for our city. He is an all around good guy and I’m happy with their decision.”
The mayor also said he is excited to have city government back to full strength.
“It is going to be great to have that fifth councilman,” Jackson said. “We don’t have to worry about there being ties and we needed that councilman-at-large position to be filled.”
The mayor said eight city residents originally submitted a letter of interest to his office including Talarico, Joseph Salamack, Bryan Marcucci, Dianne Woske, Glen Allen and Scott Jeffers. He said two other candidates also sent letters of interest but later decided they no longer wanted to seek the position.
The councilman-at-large position had been vacant since former councilman Christopher Swatt vacated the position last year. Then elected Councilman-at-Large Scott Miller was never sworn in and later announced he would no long seek the city position due to a conflict of interest.
The Fulton County Board of Ethics previously ruled him taking office would be a conflict of interest because he is employed at the Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The appointment will secure Talarico’s seat for the remainder of 2017 but the position will then be up for election later this year. Talarico said this week he intends to seek an extended four-year term in the fall elections.
“I would like to stay in this position,” he said. “I will be seeking a four-year term.”