JOHNSTOWN, Ohio (WCMH) — Residents in Johnstown, Ohio are winding down after they voted to oust two city officials in a special election.
The 5,000-resident city in Licking County voted Tuesday to recall Mayor Charles “Chip” Dutcher and Council President Marvin Block on Tuesday amid what residents called internal divisions and a lack of transparency surrounding plans for Intel’s $20 billion semiconductor fabrication plant coming near their town.
As the city determines who will fill the empty seats — and ultimately make decisions about Intel’s arrival — Johnstown residents and City Manager Jack Liggett said it’s time for the community to come together.
“I think the biggest thing that I have heard is, ‘It’s time for this to stop; It’s time for the city to move forward as a unified group and to welcome Intel — because Intel is coming — and see how we can work together with Intel, and the coming auxiliary factories that will come with them, to try to enhance Johnstown, make Johnstown better,” Liggett said.
Johnstown resident Andria Coppel said collaboration and transparency — “teamwork makes dream work” — will be important in moving forward as Intel will alter many aspects of the city.
“It’s just came so fast — I think everybody needs to kind of take a deep breath, and then everybody needs to collectively gather together and become a team together,” Coppel said.
Johnstown City Council is now expected to fill the empty positions within 30 days, according to the city charter. Liggett said he expects councilmembers to publicly call for new applicants at its next meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 6.
“Council members themselves actually choose the mayor from within the group,” Liggett said. “Many times it was a member that has the most years and the most service on council, but not always.”
The Licking County Board of Elections continues to determine the cost of Tuesday’s special recall election, but it could be as hefty as $15,000, according to city officials.
In coming months, Liggett said Johnstown residents need to be a united front, whether that’s on decisions about zoning, land use or housing, as Intel’s plants are poised to impact thousands of residents.
“We all need to be moving the same direction,” Liggett said.