By LEVI PASCHER
Fulton County Express
JOHNSTOWN — Previously elected Councilman-at-Large Scott Miller has announced that he is withdrawing himself from taking the city position after meeting with both his attorney and family.
“I didn’t want this to be a constant distraction for the city,” Miller said last week. “The community didn’t need this to be an issue and I thought the right decision was to walk away.”
Mayor Vernon Jackson said he has received a formal letter from Miller and has advised the council to seek candidates for the councilman-at-large position. He said he is looking to fill the post at the next meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 21.
“The position is now vacant again so I will be looking to appoint someone,” he said. “I will be sitting down with the council and setting up interviews with the interested candidates.”
The mayor said interested city residents need to submit a letter of interest to his office no later than Jan. 31. The person appointed will fill the remaining term of previous Councilman-At-Large Christopher Swatt, who resigned from the position last year.
“The people wanted a choice and I feel bad that it didn’t happen before the election to give the community options,” Miller said. “The person will now be appointed but it’s a position that has to be filled.”
Miller was elected in November to serve as councilman-at-large after receiving over 2,000 unofficial votes but was never officially sworn in to the position after the Fulton County Board of Ethics previously ruled him taking office would be a conflict of interest.
According to a previous release, the county ethics board reviewed the circumstances after a complaint was filed by Johnstown Police Department Lieutenant David Gilbo. The board issued the opinion that Miller shouldn’t be sworn in because he is employed at the Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Plant which would create a conflict of interest for the city.
County Attorney Jason Brott, who also serves on the county ethics board, previously said the board reviewed the issue since the city of Johnstown doesn’t have an ethics board. He previously said the mayor for the city of Johnstown serves as the chief executive officer for the treatment facility. He said if the mayor was unable to attend a meeting the councilman-at-large would step in as the deputy mayor, which would create the conflict of interest for Miller since he is employed at the same facility.
Miller said he hired local attorney Michael Albanese to help determine if he would be allowed to take the position he was elected by city residents to fill. However, he said Albanese reviewed numerous decisions and couldn’t find anything that would contradict the conflict of interest claim presented by the county ethics board.
“We looked at past opinions of the Attorney General but couldn’t find anything definitive,” Miller said.
He said his attorney and city officials determined he would be able to seek a seat on the council representing Ward 2 in future elections. However, he said he has no plans to oppose incumbent Councilwoman Kathi Iannotti.
“Unless she decides to pursue another position or steps down I won’t be running against her,” he said.
Miller was previously the president of the Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education but previously resigned from the school board to take the city position. He said he won’t be seeking a school board position either.
“My ultimate goal is to get a seat on the Common Council,” he said. “I think the school district is in good hands.”