By Nestor CASTIGLIONE
Significant changes may be in looming this year for the Glendale City Council. Incumbents Ara Najarian and Zareh Sinanyan will be seeking reelection this year, while a third seat, formerly occupied by Laura Friedman, will be wide open. Ten candidates altogether, some of them familiar faces, some of them new to local politics, are scrambling to fill these seats in the April 4 election.
The longest serving of the incumbents is Najarian, who has served on the City Council for 12 years, as well as serving as mayor during 2007 and 2010. Among the cornerstones of his tenure has been his at times vehement opposition to over-development in Glendale, a position he has continued to hold as board member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority where he has fought against such projects as the proposed 710 Freeway tunnel. He has also been recognized for his efforts to improve the business climate in Glendale. A statement on his campaign website reads that Najarian “has led the fight to create thousands of new jobs by attracting and retaining national company headquarters such as the Yellow Pages, LegalZoom, Whole Foods, Avery Denison, Applebees, Nestlé, Disney, Dreamworks and IHOP.”
Sinanyan has sat on the City Council since 2013 and was appointed mayor in 2014. Among the accomplishments that he has touted has been the increase in affordable housing that he oversaw while he was chair of the Housing Authority, a position that he continues to hold.
“Glendale has emerged from the recession having preserved many of our vital services and programs,” Sinanyan said in a campaign statement. “But we have a lot of work still to do to make sure the economic recovery has reached every resident of Glendale and that we rebuild ourselves to where we were before the city and region took major hits.”
Rick Dinger, owner and president of Crescenta Valley Insurance, is making his second run for a seat on the Council. A member of the Glendale Salvation Army and a former president of the Sunrise Rotary Club, Dinger has advocated for increased public safety. He has been endorsed by Mayor Paula Devine.
Mike Mohill, a member of the Glendale Coalition for Better Government, has been one of the city’s most persistent critics – earning him the enmity and sometimes grudging respect of the City Council. Among the priorities that he would promote in office would be the improvement of public infrastructure and ending the influence of special interests.
Local talk show host and engineer Vrej Agajanian has been a resident of Glendale for 34 years and has promised increased transparency in civic government and support for local businesses.
Retired U.S. Army Major General and business owner Mark MacCarley will be among the candidates making their initial forays into campaigning for City Council. Born and raised in the city, MacCarley’s campaign statement said that “he prides himself as a champion of small business” and that he is “committed to helping Glendale respond to the tragic loss of jobs and decent living suffered by thousands of residents following the ongoing departure of big-name employers from [the] city.”
Onnik Mehrabian is the owner of a car dealership and has served on the city’s Transportation and Parking Commission. Among the goals he is looking to achieve as a member of the City Council is to expand and maintain green spaces in Glendale.
Mike van Gorder is running as a champion of working class and young voters. According to his campaign statement, the 31-year-old candidate says that he wants to represent his generation and the whole of the renting population in the city.
“There are five homeowners on the board and no renters. Our crucial perspective, the perspective of struggle – the working-class renters, young couples and immigrant families as well as cost-burdened homeowners – is lacking from City Hall,” he said. “The sitting members spent between $55,000 and $105,000 on their campaigns and I want to run a people-powered, low-budget campaign to show that ideas and energy can win against wealth for a truly representative democracy.”
Grant Michals, who is the president of the Glendale Homeowners Coordinating Council and serves on the Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Commission, said that he wants to take on the challenges of development and budget.
Susan Wolfson, a member of the Glendale Historical Society and an account clerk for the city of La Cañada Flintridge, has stated that she wants to improve financial transparency and resident outreach.
The terms of City Clerk Ardashes “Ardy” Kassakhian and City Treasurer Rafi Manoukian are also up, but they are running unopposed.
The Glendale election will occur on April 4.