Johnstown responds to Politico article

Johnstown, Cambria County, Pa. - In response to a Politico Magazine article describing Johnstown's blight, drug epidemic and struggling economy over the course of a year, city leaders are speaking up in defense of their hometown.

"A lot of the commentary was so negative it was shocking," said Melissa Radovanic, the president of the Discover Downtown Johnstown Partnership.

They wrote a letter to the editor, which Politico published on Wednesday, citing new businesses, a growing cultural and arts community and efforts to promote diversity.

City leaders who responded to the article said that instead of making a political statement about Rust Belt communities, they felt the article painted an incomplete picture of Johnstown.

"It's not what Johnstown is, it's not what Cambria County is, it's not what our area is and who our people are," said Lisa Rager, the executive director of the Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Richard Markum is a retired electrician for Gautier Steel. He was photographed for another Politico article published in 2016.

Markum said many issues President Donald Trump talked about during the election still exist in Johnstown.

"The steel mills don't appear to be coming back, coal mines don't appear to be coming back. All the things that were said, don't appear to be happening," Markum said.

However, Markum said that doesn't mean the area isn't making any progress.

"I don't think things are as bad as they say they are," said Markum.

Johnstown leaders said they are not ignoring issues facing the area, but tackling them head-on. 

"I think people are rallying now to show this is a good community, we don't want to be painted this way, locally, regionally or nationally and we're going to fight back," Radovanic said.

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